Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, thus aptly called gum disease. Bacteria are the primary culprit in periodontal disease. A bacterium produces sticky, colorless plaque on the teeth. Brushing and flossing will help eliminate plaque. However, plaque that is not removed will form tartar, a harder substance to clean. Tartar harbors bacteria that make it easier to invade your gums, causing gum disease.
Initially, bacteria from tartar will cause inflammation of the gums, or gingivitis. Gingivitis is seen as swelling and reddening of the gums. Gums bleed easily even during brushing the teeth. Gingivitis is easily treated with improving dental hygiene and regular cleaning by a dentist. If left untreated, gingivitis will develop into periodontitis, a more serious type of infection. Gums pull back from the teeth and form shallow pockets of infection.
To protect yourself from gum disease it is important to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth diligently twice daily, avoiding cigarettes and tobacco products, eating a balanced diet and making regular visits to your dentist.