Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Why? Because it occurs at an age when cavities are usually a thing of the past, and the initial symptoms often go unnoticed.
HERE'S WHAT TO WATCH FOR: gums that bleed when brushing: red, swollen, or tender gums; or persistent bad breath.
Periodontal or gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, ligaments and bone that support the teeth and anchor them in the jaw. The bacteria, which act mainly on certain carbohydrates, eventually harden into tartar, a hard mineral shell that irritates healthy gum tissues. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. If left untreated, pockets begin to form between the teeth and gum tissues and may damage the tissue which attaches the tooth to the jaw. This stage is called periodontitis.
Gum disease can be treated at all stages, but more importantly, it can be prevented.
HERE'S HOW: Brush twice a day, floss daily, eat a balanced diet, and visit the dentist regularly -- ideally every six months for a preventive check-up and professional cleaning which is essential in the prevention of gum disease.