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what is gum disease?
In gingivitis, your gums become irritated by plaque - a mixture of food, bacteria and bacterial waste products that builds up on your teeth after eating. If plaque isn't cleaned off your teeth regularly, your gums can become red, swollen and inflamed, and they may bleed. Gingivitis is completely reversible. If the plaque is removed, the gums will recover. If the plaque is not cleaned off the teeth, the gingivitis will remain, and may progress to periodontitis.
If gingivitis is not treated, the gums begin to pull away from your teeth, leaving a little pocket around the tooth. This pocket traps plaque that you can't reach with a toothbrush. Over time, plaque hardens to tartar (calculus). Plaque and tartar build up, causing further irritation of the gum.
The irritation gradually spreads to the bone supporting your teeth. As time goes on, the pockets get deeper and more difficult to clean, and the gum and bone may shrink. This is called periodontitis. If left untreated over a number of years, enough bone loss can occur to cause the tooth to become loose enough that it may fall out, or need to be taken out by a dentist. It's rarely possible to make the bone structures grow back, so periodontal pockets are not reversible. However, if you get the appropriate treatment and make sure you floss and brush your teeth well, the progress of the disease can be halted.