Gum Disease Primer: Understanding Periodontal Disease Stages, Factors, and Related Conditions

In this guide, we’ll cover the factors and related conditions of all periodontal disease stages.

Are your gums starting to feel inflamed? Maybe you’re noticing your gums are bloody each time you brush.

Learning about the periodontal disease stages can help you determine the cause.

47.2% of adults ages 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease. Chances of developing this infection increases as you age. In fact, 70.1% of adults ages 65 and older have periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease and tooth decay are two of the biggest threats regarding your dental health. However, periodontal disease develops in stages. You can stop it before you start losing teeth.

Don’t wait for the infection to get worse. Keep reading to learn about the four gum disease stages before you need dentures.


When our bodies need to fight infections or heal injuries, they respond with inflammation. Too much inflammation, however, can cause pain.

One of the first symptoms you’ll experience is inflammation, which can cause red, tender, and swollen gums. This symptom often occurs during the gingivitis stages of periodontal disease.

However, the symptoms of early gingivitis stages aren’t very noticeable. Your dentist will likely point the symptoms out during a routine checkup. However, waiting too long between appointments could cause you to notice a few symptoms.

The warning signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitivity
  • Gumline pulls away from your teeth
  • Changes in how your teeth fit when you bite down

You can look at pictures of healthy gums and compare them to your own to determine if you’re at the stage of gingivitis.

Your dentist will look for signs of early gum disease stages during your routine dental exam. Using a small ruler called a probe, they’ll measure any pockets on your gums. If they find plaque, tartar, or both, your dentist will remove the substance during your cleaning.

Then, they’ll monitor your status overtime to make sure the disease doesn’t progress.

If you start noticing these symptoms, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, start using a periodontal toothpaste and maintain proper oral hygiene.

Related Conditions

When left untreated, the disease can destroy the supporting structures of your teeth, including your jawbones. Your teeth can loosen and fall out as well. Other complications include:

  • Painful abscesses
  • Migration of your teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Increase complications during pregnancy

If you have periodontitis, you’re also at an increased risk for respiratory disease, heart disease, and diabetes.

Who is Affected?

Periodontal disease doesn’t discriminate based on age or gender. Anyone who fails to maintain proper dental hygiene can develop periodontal disease.

However, there are a few factors that could put you at risk for periodontal disease. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth
  • Immuno-deficiency (caused by HIV or leukemia)
  • Certain medications
  • Female hormonal changes (caused by pregnancy or menopause)

Type 2 diabetes, smoking, and obesity put you at a higher risk of periodontitis. You might also develop the disease if you’re vitamin C deficient or lack proper nutrition.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection that impacts your gums and jawbone. As the infection spread, you become more likely to lose teeth and develop other health concerns. Periodontal disease is usually caused by poor dental hygiene, such as the failure to brush and floss daily.

Failing to brush and floss your teeth will leave food particles and bacteria in your mouth.

When bacteria multiply and spread throughout your teeth, they become a sticky substance called plaque. In time, the plaque hardens into tartar. You need a dental professional’s health to remove the tartar from your teeth.

Otherwise, the tartar spreads into the gumline.

Only one of the four periodontal disease stages is reversible.


All causes of periodontal disease connect back to one source: bacteria.

When plaque and tartar aren’t regularly removed from your teeth, you’re likely to develop periodontal disease. Brushing twice a day, flossing each night, and visiting your local dentist for professional cleanings can help you avoid periodontal disease. Without these healthy oral hygiene habits, however, you’re putting yourself at risk for the disease.

If you do develop periodontal disease, ask your dentist about at-home tools, such as a periodontal toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash.


Periodontal disease is broken into four gum disease stages: gingivitis, slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease.

Of these gum disease stages, only gingivitis is reversible.


The stage of gingivitis primarily involves inflammation. You might notice your gums bleed when you floss or brush your teeth.

You might also notice discoloration against your teeth, which occurs with plaque buildup. Plaque occurs when bacteria and food particles are left on your teeth. Without proper brushing and flossing, the bacteria can spread, leading to more dramatic periodontal disease stages.

Most indicators of periodontal disease aren’t obvious until the later stages. However, you might notice occasional bad breath and swollen gums during this stage.

Early/Slight Periodontal Disease

Compared to pictures of healthy gums, you might notice your gums have receded from your teeth if you have early/slight periodontal disease.

Though this stage isn’t reversible, it is manageable.

During this stage, small pockets will form between your teeth and gums. These pockets contain harmful bacteria. The bacteria will become more aggressive, which can result in additional bone loss.

Moderate Periodontal Disease

During this stage, the bacteria will attack your bones, bloodstream, and immune system. You’ll need to visit a gum specialist for scaling and root planing to deep clean the deposits of bacteria from your gums.

Left untreated, moderate periodontal disease can lead to gum sensitivity, bleeding, teeth shifting, bone loss, and tooth loss.

Advanced/Severe Periodontal Disease

Severe periodontal disease is the 11th most prevalent disease in the world. This stage occurs when the infection deepens and the bacteria causes diseases to develop. In addition to bone loss, you’ll also experience:

  • Swollen gums that ooze puss
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Loosened teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Severe halitosis

You will require periodontal surgery or laser therapy to clean the bacteria-filled pockets that form in the gums.

Left untreated, advanced periodontal disease leads to:

  • Spacing/gaps between the teeth
  • Receding gums
  • The need for dentures

You could also experience some of the additional health problems we mentioned above.

Gum Disease Primer: Understanding Periodontal Disease Stages, Factors & More

Don’t let your gum disease escalate to the point of tooth loss! Instead, understanding the four periodontal disease stages can help you maintain proper oral hygiene before the disease spreads.

Remember, treating the disease as soon as possible is essential. Scheduling regular checkups and cleanings can help you catch the periodontal disease while it’s still reversible.

Ready for your next appointment? Contact us today to get started.