Stages of Gum Disease Diagnosis

Dentist examines an old mans teeth

Dentists know if gums are healthy or not. Diagnosing gum disease is the first step toward treatment. Learn about the different stages that lead to a diagnosis.

Many DIY guides exist to assist people with health problems. For dental patients, there is information to help them diagnose and treat gum disease. Dentists also have methods of looking for diseases that affect the teeth and gums. Most guides include the different stages of gum disease diagnosis.


Dentists use X-rays to detect gum disease. Without this technology, they cannot find the hidden symptoms, such as bone loss. Then, they cannot determine the cause of the disease or find the right solution.

Using medical images, dentists look for abnormalities in the bones that support your gums. They can look inside of teeth and find infections. A tooth infection may spread to the gums and become the primary cause of gum disease.

Physical Examination

A physical exam is the second step to diagnose periodontal disease. Dentists look for the more obvious signs on the gums, such as redness, swelling, and sensitivity to touch. Additional symptoms are cavities, serious tooth infections, and bad breath.

In advanced stages of disease, the gums look distorted and form large pockets. These pockets allow bacteria to set in and increase the infection risks. The teeth loosen and become weaker, increasing the risks of tooth decay.


Next, dentists classify the correct stage of the periodontal disease. The levels of classification vary from minor damage that is barely noticeable to severe damage that is irreversible and needs surgery. Gingivitis is the most common classification that is reversible and cured after a few weeks or months. Aggressive periodontitis is less common and diagnosed using probes that measure pocket depth along with X rays and a review of the patient’s family history.


In the final stage of diagnosis, the dentist recommends the correct treatment based on the level of classification. For example, scaling and root planing is recommended for patients with gingivitis. The dentist mechanically removes the plaque and tartar that cause gum inflammation.

Diagnosing gum disease is a task that anyone can do at home. You look for bleeding, swelling, and other visible signs. It’s easy to know a toothache because the pain sets in quickly. At Fairfield Dental Arts, we are experts on gum disease and will dig further than the visible signs. If you think you might have gum disease, contact us today to schedule an appointment!