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Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Left unchecked, it can lead to tooth loss. Part of a typical oral exam at a general dental practice is checking the gums for early signs of gum disease. This painless dental exam also involves giving the patient tips on teeth cleaning and good gum care.
Some people are more prone to gum disease than others. Those who smoke, take certain medications (such as anti-convulsants), those with weak immune systems (because of cancer, HIV or other conditions) and those with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease.
Signs of gum disease include red, swollen gums, receding gums and teeth that are loose. Most gum disease can be successfully treated. Specific treatment depends on the stage of the disease.