Scaling and root planning (deep cleaning), along with proper daily brushing and flossing, is effective in treating gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. Scaling and root planing also is a cost effective, minimally invasive, and non-surgical way to prevent and/or treat the more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder, more easily corrected form of gum disease; periodontitis is a more serious form that progresses over a longer time. Consequences and treatment may be more involved for periodontitis. Periodontal disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding oral tissues. The main cause of gum disease, bacterial plaque (a sticky, colorless film that forms on teeth) hardens into a rough, porous substance that releases toxins. These toxins cause the gum fibers holding the teeth firmly in place to loosen and break down, creating periodontal pockets that can become filled with more bacteria and toxins. If left untreated, the pockets continue to deepen and the bone securing the teeth will be destroyed, eventually causing tooth loss.