Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place. Gum disease can affect patients of all ages, and even the healthiest of smiles can be at risk. Gingivitis is the initial stage of this disease, and, if treated at this stage, gum disease can often be prevented and reversed. However, if left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss and unsightly changes to the soft tissues around the teeth. The good news is that gum disease is relatively easy to prevent by maintaining proper dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) and making regular dental visits.