Periodontics is a specialty of dentistry that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases in the tissues around the tooth, from the gums and bone to the supportive ligaments. When the structures around the teeth get unhealthy and infections develop, it is called periodontal disease. Another name for the bacterial infection is gum disease.
As the beginning stages of periodontal disease are typically free of pain, patients may miss early detection. Failure to receive periodontal treatment as early as possible, however, can have substantial consequences. Gum disease can lead to loss of teeth and the spread of bacteria from the mouth to the bloodstream and then into various bodily organs.
Periodontal disease may increase the risk of atherosclerosis or clogged arteries, and intensify heart disease. Researchers also link gum disease to increases in the risks of stroke and lung infections, as well as increasing risks during pregnancy.