The prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal, or gum, disease is very important to health. Gingivitis represents the first, non-destructive stage of gum disease. However, gingivitis can develop into a more serious condition called periodontitis. This is why it is especially important to catch periodontal disease in its early stages. Certain people are at higher risk for developing gum disease, such as smokers, people with diabetes and women in menopause.