Periodontal disease is an infection of the periodontium, the area surrounding the tooth. The periodontium consists of four structures: gum, alveolar bone (socket where the tooth root is held), cementum (outer lining of root), and the periodontal ligament (ligament that holds the tooth in place). The disease is caused by bacteria, leading to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and often to periodontitis (inflammation of the periodontium). While gingivitis is reversible, periodontists is not, and it results in pockets of chronic infection around the tooth root.
The treatment of gums requires removal of the plaque or tartar which remains so closely attached to the gums. Antibiotics may be required for the treatment of minor gum infections. If the infection advances to a periodontal disease, then the treatment can necessitate root planning and curettage