When the tissues that support your teeth become infected, it is known as periodontal disease. In its milder, early stages it is known as gingivitis, or gum disease. This is reversible. Later stages, called, periodontitis, can involve permanent damage, bone and tooth loss.

Periodontal disease occurs just below the gum line, where your teeth attach to the bone. As tissue damage progresses, pockets develop. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the condition is.

Early stages may have no symptoms. Regular visits to your dentist will detect the disease before it progresses to symptoms such as bleeding, tender, swollen or red gums, gums receding from your teeth, to exposed roots and loose teeth. Persistent bad breath can also be a symptom.

Losing your teeth isn’t necessary. Good at-home oral hygiene (regular brushing and flossing) and a healthy diet can help prevent periodontal disease. And make sure you have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined, at least every six months.