Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support your teeth. Your gum tissue is not attached to the teeth as high as it may seem. There is a very shallow, v-shaped crevice called a sulcus between the tooth and gums. Periodontal bacteria attack just below the gum line in the sulcus, where they cause the attachment of the tooth and its supporting tissues to break down. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket. Generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.
Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.

Some factors increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

Several warning signs that can signal a problem:

  • Tobacco smoking or chewing

  • Gums that bleed easily

  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes

  • Red, swollen, tender gums

  • Some types of medications, such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, and calcium channel blockers

  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth

  • Bridges that no longer fit properly

  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth

  • Fillings that have become defective

  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives

  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures