Stages of Gum Disease Diagnosis

gum disease

Gum disease is an extremely common dental problem, affecting as many as 80% of the population at some point during their lifetime. A lot of patients do not even realize that they are suffering from the condition, since the symptoms are difficult to spot, and it does not cause discomfort in its early stages.

When left untreated, gum disease is a risk-factor for a slew of general and dental health problems. Depending on the severity of gum disease, it can cause everything from bad breath to heart disease and tooth loss. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the identifying factors of gum disease, and its stages of diagnosis.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is the term used to describe a condition, in which the gums become inflamed, sore, and infected from bacterial buildup in the mouth.

There are several different causes of gum disease, but the most common reason for the condition to develop is that the patient has accumulated large amounts of plaque along the gum line. The bacteria in this plaque then penetrates beneath the gum tissue, forming periodontal pockets, where infection soon sets in.

Gum disease progresses in different stages, and the type of treatment that you will need will depend on which stage your gum disease is at when you receive your diagnosis. The earlier that you can identify gum disease, the less extensive and severe the treatment will be.

Stage 1 of gum disease

The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis, which is the mildest form of the condition. At this point, plaque is only found on the outside of the teeth. The infection is only just getting into the micro-sized spaces around the teeth, and beginning to impact the health of the gums.

Symptoms at this stage are difficult to detect and are also easy to ignore. They include:

  • Occasional bad breath

  • Bleeding of the gums when brushing or flossing

  • Redness and swelling in the gums

Part of the process of diagnosing gum disease involves measuring the depths of the periodontal pockets. These are microscopic gaps along the gum line that trap bacteria and debris. In cases of gingivitis, the periodontal pockets are usually a maximum of 4mm deep.

It is perfectly possible to treat and reverse any damage caused by gum disease at this stage of the condition. Dr. Ajmo will help you by advising proper oral hygiene routines, and attend regular appointments with your dental hygienist to ensure that you can get your gingivitis under control.

Stage 2 of gum disease

If the first stage of gum disease is left untreated, the condition progresses to a point where it is classed as moderately severe and is referred to as periodontitis. At this point, plaque is found to be extending below the gum line, and is beginning to destroy the supporting bone. The periodontal pockets are also getting deeper, at around 6-7mm.

Symptoms at this stage are a little more noticeable and include:

  • Very tender, red and swollen gums

  • Considerable bleeding when brushing and flossing teeth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Affected teeth may begin to appear slightly loose, which is due to the impact of the infection on the jaw bone

Treatment is still possible if you are diagnosed at this stage, but improved oral hygiene alone is not enough to address the problem. Instead, you may be referred for a procedure known as scaling and root planing. This is a deep clean that removes the deep deposits of bacteria that have accumulated in your periodontal pockets.

Stage 3 of gum disease

Also known as advanced or severe periodontitis, the final stage of gum disease is characterized by irreversible damage to the gums, teeth, and jaw bone.

Periodontal pockets are deep at upwards of 7mm, and may become filled with pus. You should expect 50-90% bone loss around the tooth, making it feel very loose. In some instances, tooth loss may also occur.

Symptoms at this stage are obvious and can include:

  • Red, swollen and oozing gums

  • Severe bleeding when brushing and flossing

  • Tooth sensitivity

  • Pain when biting and chewing

  • Severe bad breath

  • Loose teeth and/or tooth loss

At this stage, the infection is so advanced that periodontal surgery is required to effectively clear it. Antibiotics are not effective in periodontitis. After the infection is cleared, your dentist may recommend bone grafting and other restorative dental treatments to help you regain the full function of your teeth once more.


Routine trips to the dentist is your best weapon in the fight against gum disease, and your regularly scheduled appointments provide a perfect opportunity for us to detect early signs of the condition. Prompt action can help prevent the spread of the gum disease, and protect your oral and general health.

If you have any concerns about gum disease, make an appointment at PGA Advanced Dentistry in Palm Beach Gardens, FL as soon as possible by calling 561-627-8666.