Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease. Long-term infection of the gums, bone, and other tissues that surround and support the teeth causes periodontal disease.
Healthy gums are pink, firm, and do not bleed easily.
Gingivitis is periodontal disease in its mild, early stage. Symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. Because pain is not usually a symptom of gingivitis, treatment may not be prompt.
Periodontitis is periodontal disease in its later, more serious stage. Symptoms of periodontitis are gums pulling away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where bacteria can hide and cause further damage. Periodontitis can progress until it damages the bones that support the teeth. Teeth may become loose and fall out or need removal (extraction).
Early treatment of gum disease may prevent more severe disease, which is harder to treat. Brushing and flossing regularly help prevent periodontal disease.