Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the soft tissues surrounding the teeth and the bone which holds the teeth firmly in place. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film containing bacteria that irritates the gum tissue. If not removed on a daily basis, it becomes a hard, crusty substance called calculus or tartar, which is difficult to remove. Once calculus forms, the bone supporting your teeth begins to dissolve away, leaving deep crevices called pockets between the tooth and gum where more plaque and calculus can accumulate. Once the bone is lost, it is very difficult and many times impossible to get it back. The majority of gum disease treatments involve arresting further progression of the disease and involve active participation by the patient to maintain good oral health.