Periodontal or gum disease, an inflammatory disease caused by infection of the gums and resulting in the collapse of structures supporting our teeth, is wildly common worldwide, affecting as much as 50 per cent of the population. If left untreated, there can be severe consequences for the soft tissue and bone shaping our oral cavities. These kinds of symptoms are seriously distressing for patients seeking merely to chew their food and perform everyday tasks. With the overwhelming prominence of this condition, further research is needed to provide patients the comfort they need. Dr Yoshiaki Hasegawa at Aichi Gakuin University's Department of Microbiology is tackling periodontal disease at its source and paving the way for new treatments in the future. Through his intense case study of the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis, Hasegawa reveals some of the critical mechanisms allowing gum disease to flourish and hypothesises new methods to inhibit its development.