People with poor oral hygiene have greater deposits of a sticky slimy layer on tooth surfaces called plaque. If not cleaned out regularly, this plaque layer become rich with bacteria and hardens into tarter. Gums adjacent to tarter deposits become inflamed and bleed easily especially during brushing. This condition is called Gingivitis and is easily reversible by a simple prophylaxis which removes the tarter deposits, described in the Oral Prophylaxis page
However, if untreated, gingivitis slowly progresses to periodontitis, a serious chronic gum infection that destroys the bone supporting your teeth causing them to become loose and eventually fall out. Periodontitis is also linked with increased risk of heart disease and premature low-birth weight babies
Periodontitis has three stages – early stage, moderate stage and advance stage. The process from gingivitis to advanced periodontitis can take an average of 20 years. Two aspect of this disease make it unique. First it is a painless disease and secondly it is very slowly progressive taking about 15-20 years for teeth to become loose and fall out. This double edged situation means that many people suffer from this disease without knowing it because they have not pain and teeth take a long time to become loose.
Periodontitis as a disease can be compared with diabetes in that diabetes is a disease that cannot be cured but needs to be kept under control to ensure a long and healthy lifestyle; periodontitis is similar in that it too cannot be cured but it needs to be kept under control allowing a healthy oral cavity that will service the person for a lifetime.