Periodontal disease (often called gum disease) is typically signified by red, swollen, painful, or bleeding gums, but in some cases has no noticeable symptoms. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which begins with mild gum inflammation called "gingivitis". It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults living in the developed world, and should be taken very seriously.
Periodontal disease generally begins when the bacteria living in plaque cause an infection in the surrounding tissues of the teeth, causing them to become irritated and painful. Eventually, this infection will cause the jawbone to recede and the tooth to become loose.
Sometimes a periodontal scaling and root planing is needed to remove the bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surfaces below the gum line. Where periodontal disease is advanced and the jawbone has regressed significantly, loose teeth that cannot be saved may need to be removed.
Because periodontal disease is progressive, it is essential to remove the bacteria and calculus build up to halt the spread of the infection. Your dentist will be happy to advise you on effective cleaning methods and treatment options.