Healthy gums and bone hold teeth firmly in place. Gums hug the teeth tightly. There is little or no buildup of plaque and tartar (calculus).
Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease. It develops as plaque irritates the gums. The gums become red, tender, swollen and likely to bleed. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with a professional dental cleaning plus improved oral hygiene. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar.
Periodontitis is a more serious condition that can develop if gingivitis is not treated. Periodontitis happens over time as plaque inflames the gums. The gums and bone that support teeth are damaged. Unless treated, the affected teeth may become loose and even require removal by a dentist.