A common problem that often is seen in the dental office is plaque accumulation around the teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that produce substances which can be harmful to the gingiva (gums). If the plaque is allowed to remain, it can become a hard coating around the teeth that is called calculus (tartar). This frequently produces red, swollen, sometimes painful and often bleeding gum tissue that is known as gingivitis.

If the calculus continues to build around the pockets of the teeth, the pockets will deepen and can result in bone loss. This is referred to as periodontitis because it involves both the gums and the bone supporting the teeth. The teeth become mobile due to bone loss. This is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Since this process often is painless and shows few symptoms, patients may be unaware that there is a problem. Regular dental examinations are essential for the early diagnosis and treatment of periodontal problems.

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