Gum disease is the condition that dentists call 'periodontitis' , sometimes it is used more generally to include gingivitis, though as you will see later, these complaints are quite different.
Let's start by classifying what periodontitis and gingivitis actually mean. Anything with 'itis' on the end means 'swelling of' -so a good example would be tonsillitis meaning swelling of the tonsils.
Ginigivae is 'dentist speak' for gums, so gingivitis
literally means swelling of the gums.
Periodontitis is far more significant and where we will focus here. It means swelling of the periodontium, that is the structures that support your tooth.
The disease causes the loss of bony support for your teeth, which if left untreated in susceptible people may eventually lead to the tooth or teeth being lost. This can take many years and fortunately, if detected early, we have excellent ways of slowing it down and in some cases even stopping its progression. We are likely to be able to detect some early changes in susceptible individuals in their late teens.
FACT: Gum disease accounts for 30-35% of teeth needing extractions