On the whole, people care about their teeth – what they look like, how they feel and how white they can get. However, our pearlies are only half the equation of a healthy smile, as our gums play a larger role than we might think.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50 percent of American adults have gum disease. This consists of both gingivitis – the inflammation of the gums (early stage), and periodontal disease (advanced stage).
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that keep your teeth in place. More often than not, it is triggered by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque and anaerobic bacteria to stick onto the teeth. The main area of infection is where the teeth meet the gums, or the gum pockets. The bigger the pockets, the larger amount of space bacteria has to take shelter. If left untreated, the gingivitis can turn into advanced-stage gum disease. Gradually, a patient’s gums erode; the teeth loosen, and may even fall out. Today, more people lose their teeth due to gum disease than tooth decay.