Periodontal disease, an infection of the teeth, gums, and bone that surrounds the teeth, is the number-one cause of adult tooth loss. It begins when plaque, a sticky film of food and bacteria, builds up on your teeth. If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into calculus, also called tartar. The buildup of plaque and tartar dramatically increases the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth and can result in deepening spaces between the teeth and gums, called pockets. Bacteria trigger the body’s immune system to produce enzymes.
These enzymes destroy the bone surrounding the teeth, which ultimately leads to tooth loss.