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The word periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bones that support the teeth. It is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums, and many people think that the gums must be inflamed for the disease to be present. However, most people are not aware of the disease at first, because it is usually painless in the early stages.
Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva, which inevitably manifests on the teeth after eating. If plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar, a hardened deposit which then contributes to tooth decay.
Plaque and tartar, left unhandled, begin to destroy the gums and bone, and the stages of progress of this destruction are called by different names, which are the forms of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the number one reason for tooth loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of two Americans over thirty years old has periodontal disease. A dental exam is necessary to be sure one is actually not afflicted.