The gums, ligaments, and bone around the teeth, referred to as the periodontium, form the foundation for teeth. When the periodontium is not healthy, it jeopardizes the teeth just as a bad foundation would threaten the stability of a house. Signs of an unhealthy periodontium (gum disease) include gums that are red and bleed easily, persistent bad breath, gums that are pulled away from the tooth, loose teeth, and changes in the position or bite of the teeth.
With the proper care, it may be possible to return the periodontium to good health. The treatment usually involves a deep cleaning or root planing performed under a local anesthetic. When indicated, antibiotics are placed directly into affected areas at the same time. If the gum disease gets too severe then the mouth may need to be treated through surgery or extraction of teeth. Early treatment can prevent tooth loss from periodontal disease.