Periodontology is concerned with the treatment of diseases and the restoration and maintenance of the tissues surrounding the teeth ("periodontium"). The most frequent and most important field of activity in periodontology is the systematic treatment of inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and inflammation of the area round the root of a tooth (periodontitis).
Periodontitis is one of the most common oral infectious diseases, and counts today along with caries as the main cause of tooth loss. These diseases are usually chronic, going on for years or in some cases even decades. Current data from cross-sectional studies indicate that, in Germany, almost every second adult over 35 years of age has periodontitis that needs treating. The general lack of knowledge about this disease is due to the fact that periodontitis typically develops progressively and without acute pains.
But there are early warning signs, for example bleeding or swelling of the gums and also bad breath. An increasingly loose tooth is also an indication of potential periodontitis, and should be seen to immediately. With smokers, some of these early symptoms fail to show, for example gum bleeding. Smokers are therefore not only at risk of not noticing the disease until it is too late, but they are also a higher risk group anyway for the development of periodontitis.