As more evidence emerges about the links between gum disease and other serious health concerns, people who suspect they may suffer from this dental condition are being urged to visit a dentist. Up to 80 percent of the U.S. population is affected by some level of gum disease – which can range from mild inflammation to full-blown periodontitis, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Poor oral health habits, illnesses such as diabetes, stress, an unbalanced diet, smoking, drinking, use of certain medications and pregnancy are some of the factors that may lead to gum disease.Symptoms of a potential problem include swollen, tender or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, permanent teeth that are loose, and a change in tooth alignment.

However, some people experience no warning signs at all for gum disease, which highlights the importance of regular dental check-ups. The earlier the condition is caught, the easier it is to treat.