Mark D. Mellman, DDS, PA
Periodontics, Implants, & LANAP
Specialized Care, Outstanding Results

Diagnosis, Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

1.  Gums bleeding when you brush your teeth. Even a little bleeding is not normal.  If you have a "pink" toothbrush, see your periodontist.

2.  Red, swollen or tender gums.

3.  Detachment of the gums from the teeth.

4.  Pus that appears from the gumline when the gums are pressed.

5.  Teeth that have become loose or have changed position.

6.  Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

7.  Any change in the fit of partial dentures.

8.  Chronic bad breath or bad taste.

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.

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 three millimeters or less and does not bleed.  The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters.  As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

There are actually several types of periodontal disease.  all are started by a bacterial infection that destroys the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth.  Periodontal disease progresses silently, often without pain or overt symptoms that would alert you to its presence.  It may develop slowly or quite rapidly.


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:



Healthy gums and bone anchor teeth firmly in place.


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.


Despite unparalled advances in dentistry and breakthroughs in research, periodontal disease remains a serious dental health problem. Nine out of 10 people are afflicted by it in the course of their lives.  Responsible for considerable tooth loss in adults, periodontal disease currently affects about three out of four adults over the age of 40.


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