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Periodontal disease must be diagnosed by a dentist. During a regular dental exam, your dentist will use a small dental probe to measure the pocket between your teeth and gums. Healthy pockets are less than three millimeters wide, but as periodontal disease progresses, the pockets become more prominent and begin to bleed.

Based on the size of the pockets, amount of bone loss, bleeding and infection, your dentist will classify the disease into one of three categories.

Stages of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis: Gingivitis is the first and most mild state of periodontal disease. At this point, plaque and tartar irritate the gums and cause them to bleed.

Periodontitis: In the second phase of periodontal disease, periodontitis, the deep pockets between the teeth fill with pus and bacteria, causing the gums to recess. Frequent bleeding of the gums and potential bone loss are prominent signs of periodontitis.

Advanced Periodontitis: The final and most severe stage of periodontal disease is advanced periodontitis. At this stage, the gums, bone, and surrounding tissues continue to erode, and if left untreated, teeth can become loose or lost altogether.