Gingiva is another word for the gums, or the soft, pink tissue that surrounds and protects the bottom of the teeth where they enter the jawbone. The gingiva is attached to the tooth, which forms a seal between the mouth and the underlying bone. Poor oral hygiene causes a buildup of plaque in the crevices of the teeth and gums, which if left untreated, can cause an infection called gingivitis, or gum disease. Gum disease causes inflammation of the gums and weakens the seal, allowing bacteria to enter the tooth root and bone structure. When this happens, the infection progresses to periodontitis, which often results in permanent tooth and bone loss. The gums play an integral role in the overall oral health of a patient and are crucial to keep healthy. Poor gum health contributes to poor oral health and a wide variety of other dental problems.