Periodontal disease, also known as gingivitis, is a very common infection that affects millions of American adults every day. It is estimated that about 80% of all adults suffer from some form of this gum disease, or about 4 out of every 5 adults. When ignored and untreated, it has the potential to have devastating effects on a person's health. Fortunately, it can be treated quite easily.

For the most part, gingivitis is a mild infection from too much plaque build up on the teeth. Plaque is the layer of bacteria that grow on your teeth and feed on the sugars and starches that linger in your mouth after eating. It has a "fuzzy" feel to it when you run your tongue over your teeth.

The toxins produced by the bacteria will cause the gums to inflame and become red. This can also cause bad breath and the gums to bleed easily. If given enough time, the plaque will harden to form tartar, which will require a dentist to professionally remove it. Tartar buildup will make it easier for bacteria to grow and spread, which can eventually lead to periodontitis if untreated. Periodontitis is a very serious gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and an increased risk of heart attack, strokes and diabetes.

Plaque continuously grows as you eat your meals day in and day out. To avoid it from uncontrollably building up, you must remove it on a daily basis. This is why it is so important to brush and floss everyday.

Treating periodontal disease in its tempered state would require a simple dentist visit and to have them perform a cleaning. After that, you can easily prevent the onset of gum disease through good oral hygiene habits.

When there is significant calculus build up, and periodontitis sets in, a more aggressive approach is required. Two non surgical procedures that are performed are called scaling and root planing. Scaling is the removal of plaque and tartar from the crown and root surfaces of the tooth. Root planing is the removal of the cementum and dentin of the root surface that has been damaged by excessive bacteria growth.

In extreme cases, a patient may require surgery for periodontal disease treatment. Flap surgery requires an incision made into the gums of an affected tooth that are peeled back to reveal more of the root of that tooth. From this point, the dentist can remove the microbe and tartar build up as needed. In cases where there is irreversible damage, part of the gums and bone will have to be permanently removed and a bone or soft tissue graft will be done to fill the void.