Among the causes for periodontal (gum) disease are poor oral hygiene, genetic susceptibility, smoking and some systemic illnesses like diabetes. Periodontal maintenance is the process of treating gum disease and routinely involves removing plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline. Most periodontal disease is preventable with proper oral hygiene. However, what can start out as gingivitis (inflamed or bleeding gums) can quickly turn into gum disease. Once periodontitis begins, gums recede from the tooth to create “pockets,” thereby exposing dental roots to infection causing bacteria. It can also lead to prolonged bad breath, loose teeth, painful chewing and other complications when left untreated.