Periodontology is concerned with looking after support tissue, the periodontium, made of gum, the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone which supports the tooth.
First of all it must be said that you can avoid problems arising with the periodontium by regularly applying daily hygiene measures, undergoing periodic checks from the dentist and regularly carrying out professional teeth cleaning by a hygienist.
Signs that should alarm the patient are gum bleeding during normal tooth brushing (in smokers this aspect is notably masked by the effect of nicotine that causes vasoconstriction), unnatural tooth movement (migration), widespread gum pain or gum swelling with possible presence of bad breath.
Periodontitis is caused by plaque and tartar accumulation that deposits on teeth close to the gums. At the beginning this causes light gum inflammation (reddening) and consequently blood appears when the gum tissue undergoes first lesions. In this case it is called gingivitis. It is a totally reversible phenomenon if they right therapeutic acts are applied and with good motivation from the patient.
With bacteria migration in the subgingival area you see progressive gum dissection and the beginning of bone destruction with the appearance of pockets and it is commonly called periodontitis (or pyorrhea). In this case bone destruction is permanent and is only in some cases is it possible, through particular regeneration techniques, partially recover the destroyed hard tissue. In this phase the illness generally evolves slowly and without particular pain leading to an increasingly important tooth mobility and they can even fall out.
Poor oral hygiene or incorrect cleaning technique can favour the onset of periodontitis. The course of the disease and the disposition of the periodontium to attack bacteria can be influenced by other factors, like a wekened immune system, smoking, diabetes and other generic illnesses. Parodontisis, for its part, increases the risk of premature cardio-vascular illnesses or airway pathologies, as well as worsening full-blown diabetes.