In health the gum is attached tightly to teeth with thousands of ligament fibers. There is alwas a small space between the gum and tooth that, in health, measures two or three millimeters deep.
If plaque or tarter accumulates at the gum line, tissues become inflamed and creates the disease gingivitis. In about 30% of the population gingivitis will convert into a more severe disease. In the past this disease was called pyorrhea but now is properly called periodontitis.
Periodontisit occurs when the ligament fibers that keep the gum tight around the teeth breaks down. This allows a space, or pocket, to form between the root of the tooth and the adjacent gum tissue. Plaque and tarter invade this space triggering the loss of the adjacent bone that supports the tooth. If not addressed it will lead to loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.
Periodontitis can successfully be treated with improved oral hygiene, root planing, and or periodontal surgery.