Plaque is a bacteria that builds up on teeth and is a natural reaction of eating, drinking, some medications, and the normal day to day function of our teeth. If not cleaned properly and regularly the plaque can calcify (harden) and become tartar.
The first stage of gum disease is caused by a build up of plaque and this can damage your gums causing gingivitis. Gingivitis is a painful condition and causes bad breath, although it is easily treated by a professional clean by your hygienist and ongoing home maintenance.
Smoking and excessive alcohol can increase the risk of the build up of tartar and gum disease.
Advanced gum disease or periodontal disease can cause damage to your teeth and gums and can lead to loss of teeth.
If you have red or swollen gums, bad breath, gum shrinkage, and/or a bad taste in your mouth you quite likely have periodontal disease. An assessment by your dentist should be made as soon as you detect any symptoms and early treatment can save further deterioration and risk of loss of teeth.
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on how advanced the disease has become. Usually your hygienist or dentist can treat you but in severe cases you may be referred to a specialist periodontist.