Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on the gum and teeth. Even after the most thorough cleaning, plaque will start to form and build up. Made up of bacteria, micro-organisms, salivary protein and other substances, plaque can build up in those hard to reach areas eg. between teeth and along gum-line. They cause irritation and produce gum, and subsequently bone, inflammation.
Tartar, or calculus, is a hardened form of plaque and are usually formed along the gum-line. They can be both above the gum (supragingival) or covered by the gum (subgingival).
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. It is a reversible inflammation of the gums mainly cause by plaque irritation. Symptoms of gingivitis include :
- change in gum colour from pale pink to deep redness ;
- round swollen gum margin instead of thin 'knife-edge' ;
- bleeding gums ; and
- bad breath.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis.
Periodontitis (Frequently referred to as gum disease)
Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease affecting the supporting structure of the tooth. Progress of untreated gingivitis can result in destruction of periodontal ligaments that attach the tooth to the gum. This leads to development of periodontal or gingival pockets that plaque and tartar further accumulate. If still left untreated, the bone that holds the tooth in place will also be gradually destroyed resulting in tooth loss.
Latest research also revealed close relation between active periodontitis and cardio-vascular (heart and blood vessel) diseases.