If you have swollen, bleeding gums, you may have periodontal disease. The sooner we eliminate this menace in your mouth, the better. Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is caused by bacteria in plaque. When plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) accumulate on the teeth, the bacteria can cause infection and inflammation in the gums. Left untreated, periodontal disease can cause serious loss of teeth and bone, and it has recently been linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, as well as premature and low-weight babies.