Countless adults in the United States suffer from varying forms of periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease. The common cause is bacteria, leading to the build-up of plaque. Once plaque hardens, it forms tartar that brushing does not remove. Only a professional dental cleaning can remove it. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding, swollen, red and receding gums. Other signs, such as consistent bad breath, painful chewing and loose or sensitive teeth, are also typically present. If these serious indications are not properly handled, they can progress and affect the bone that supports and surrounds your teeth. Gum Disease Risk Factors The principal cause of periodontal disease is plaque. However, many other factors can affect the health of your gums. Known risk factors for gum disease include: Weakened immune systems Age Systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes Tobacco use Substance abuse Certain medications, including ...