Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination.  This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection.  In order to determine your risk factor for disease we will perform a microscopic bacterial analysis.  A small amount of plaque will be taken from several areas in your mouth and put on a slide.  We will view this together at the end of the appointment.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums.  The depth of a healthy sulcus measures one to two  millimeters and does not bleed.  The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than this.  As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.


Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar).  As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth.  Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus.  The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily.  Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed.  Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost.  Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

We treat periodontal disease on a daily basis with wonderful outcomes. Our RDH's like to think of themselves as teammates to their patients. It's a team approach. Your home care is paramount to the best outcome. Let's go!