Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is a loss of the bone and gums that surround and support the teeth. In advanced stages, this can lead to pain and tooth loss. Gum disease is caused by chronic buildup of plaque and calculus (tartar) on the crown and roots of the teeth. In the early stages, this buildup causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and can make the gums tender and bleed. As this inflammation goes on continually, it worsens and causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, eventually leading to gum recession and bone loss. Once the bone loss gets advanced, teeth become loose because they have no more support and need to be removed. In most cases, this bone and gum loss is irreversible so prevention is extremely important in maintaining your teeth. Regular professional cleanings at your dentist’s office ensure that calculus buildup (which cannot be removed with a toothbrush) is removed before it can cause bone and gum loss.