Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums that starts out as plaque, an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it harbors bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums. This is the early stage of gum disease known as Gingivitis. Gingivitis is easily treated with regular dental cleanings and regular brushing and flossing.
However, if Gingivitis is left untreated, Gingivitis becomes Periodontitis which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth AND the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals.
In the early stages of Periodontitis, the condition can be treated non-surgically with a procedure called scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planning is the removal of the dental tartar from the tooth surface and the infected root. While the procedure is usually painless, some people prefer to have the area numbed for complete comfort. Deep scaling and root planing is usually broken down into one or two sections of the mouth per appointment. This allows for adequate healing time, and reduces the time for each appointment.