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The Three Phases of Periodontal Disease Symptoms

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications


There are many ways to improve your health nowadays. Healthy eating, regular exercise and annual physicals keep our bodies running smoothly. Prioritising oral hygiene and making regular dental checkups is just as important as watching cholesterol levels, but preventing periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is one of the most critical aspects of maintaining mouth health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one out of every two Americans age 30 and over has periodontal disease. As common as it is, familiarising yourself with periodontal disease symptoms is the first step toward prevention.

Gum disease has three main phases: gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. Although a dentist will be able to give you an offical diagnosis, it's important to recognise symptoms of each phase.


This first stage is the most common, but it's also reversible. The Mayo Clinic addresses the following gingivitis symptoms:

  • Red and swollen gums
  • Gums that easily bleed while brushing and flossing
  • Receding gum line
  • Bad breath


At this stage of gum disease, gingivitis has advanced to the more serious condition known as periodontitis. This results in damage to the soft tissue and loss of bone that support your teeth. According to Mayo Clinic, common symptoms include the following:

  • Swollen, bright red gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Spaces developing between teeth causing periodontal pockets to form
  • A buildup of pus between teeth and gums
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth that don't fit together when you bite

Advanced Periodontitis

This final stage of gum disease is the most severe, and is characterised by actual loss in the bone and loss of periodontal tissues that support your teeth. This results in the shifting and loosening of teeth, and tooth extraction may become necessary to remove further infection. Symptoms include:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Severe receding gums
  • Deep periodontal pockets
  • Teeth that are loose and
  • Misaligned teeth

Periodontal disease can be a long, tedious process, transforming a once beautiful smile into a mouth requiring surgical procedures. But it doesn't have to be that way. Knowing the periodontal disease symptoms will help you recognise when gingivitis is setting in. Consult your dentist to create an oral hygiene treatment plan that includes brushing with an antibacterial toothpaste to help fight gingivitis, reduce plaque and strengthen enamel. Don't forget to schedule regular professional cleaning appointments to remove plaque, tartar and food debris and reduce gingivitis in your mouth. With a little foresight and diligence, your smile can be restored.