DEAR DOCTOR K: Why is it important to keep my gums healthy? What are the consequences of gum disease?
DEAR READER: Gum disease can harm more than just your mouth; it can affect your overall health. Before describing why, I need to explain what gum disease is. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the primary culprit in adult tooth loss. It occurs when plaque -- the sticky, bacteria-laden film that collects on your teeth -- grows out of control. Gum disease begins when plaque forms in a shallow trough where the gum meets the tooth.