Periodontal disease, or gum disease, attacks the gums and bone that support your teeth. When plaque and calculus (tartar) build up around teeth and below your gums, they cause inflammation which begins to break down the gums and bone around the teeth. Periodontal disease is easily identified by red, swollen and bleeding gyms, and commonly, bad breath. Left untreated, it leads to tooth loss. Also, there is abundant research suggesting a strong link between periodontal disease and stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In additional to good oral hygiene and a healthy diet, regular dental cleanings can reduce your risk of periodontal disease, or can help treat it if you already have periodontal disease.