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Periodontal disease is typically diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a thorough periodontal examination, which should be a routine part of your regular dental check-up.

During this examination, a periodontal probe, a small dental instrument, is gently inserted into the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums to measure its depth. In a healthy mouth, the sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. Deeper pockets, along with bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, and other factors, can indicate the presence and severity of periodontal disease.

Based on these findings, your dentist or hygienist will make a diagnosis falling into one of the following categories:


Chronic periodontitis is marked by inflammation in the supporting tissues, leading to deep pockets and gum recession. While it may seem like the teeth are elongating, it’s actually the result of receding gums. This type is prevalent and involves a gradual loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.


Gingivitis marks the initial stage of periodontal disease. Plaque buildup and its toxic by-products irritate the gums, leading to tenderness, inflammation, and often bleeding.


As plaque hardens into calculus (tartar), it exacerbates the condition. The gums recede from the teeth, creating deeper pockets that accumulate bacteria and pus. This further irritates the gums, causing inflammation and easy bleeding. Additionally, slight to moderate bone loss may occur.

Advanced Periodontitis:

Continued destruction of the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament results in decreased tooth support. Untreated, affected teeth may become severely loose and eventually lost. This stage is characterized by generalized moderate to severe bone loss.