The word periodontics comes from the combination of the Greek roots, peri (around or about) and odons (tooth). Periodontitis is a bacterial gum infection that can lead to the destruction of the gums, bone and fibers that support your teeth (the periodontium). The periodontium is made up of gums (gingivae), periodontal ligament and alveolar/supporting bone (see Figures O and 1). Periodontitis can usually be easily treated when discovered early. Signs of periodontitis may include tenderness, bleeding gums, swelling of the gums or loose teeth, but the patient may have no signs whatsoever. If you have been seeing a dentist regularly over the course of many years, it is almost always dental malpractice if your dentist has failed to diagnose the condition before you have sustained permanent damage and bone loss.