Good oral hygiene is important in order to maintain healthy, attractive teeth and gums. An increasing body of research is also indicating that poor dental hygiene can lead to more serious problems such as heart disease and stroke.
The human mouth is full of bacteria, mucus, and other particles. Together, these form a sticky substance known as plaque, which can be removed easily with brushing and flossing. When plaque is not cleaned off, it hardens and becomes tarter. Tarter requires professional cleaning to remove.
Gingivitis is a disease of inflammation. The bacteria present in plaque and tarter can cause the gums to become red and swollen, and may lead to bleeding. Gingivitis is a milder form of (and the precursor to) a more serious condition known as periodontitis.
Periodontitis (inflammation around the tooth) occurs when gingivitis is not treated. In this condition, the gums pull away from teeth and form infected pockets. The body’s immune system kicks in to kill bacteria, but bacterial toxins and the immune system’s fighting enzymes eventually begin to break down the bones and connective tissues of the teeth. Tooth loss is the final result of this process.