Periodontal disease (or gum disease) begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque and can cause inflammation, tooth loss, and bone damage. Early signs of gum disease include chronic bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
The beginning stage of the disease, called gingivitis, causes gums to bleed easily and swell up. If the disease progresses to periodontitis, teeth may fall out or need to be removed.
Gum disease is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by brushing and flossing regularly.