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You are diagnosed with periodontitis during a dental examination by your dentist or dental technician. Such tests should always be part of your routine dental checkup.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is used gently to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. A healthy sulcus is three millimeters or less in depth and does not produce bleeding. A dental examination helps determine if the pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As arthritis progresses, the pocket tends to deepen.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depth, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc. to perform an assessment that falls into the category below:


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.


The plaque hardens (Tartar). As the calculus and plaque form, the gum begins to pull away from the tooth. Deep pockets form between the gums and teeth and are filled with bacteria and pus. Gums are very irritating, inflamed and bleed easily. Moderate to severe bone loss may occur.

Advanced Periodontitis

Much of the support of the teeth is lost as the gums, bone and cartilage continue to deteriorate. Unless left untreated, the hardened tooth will become more sensitive again and may be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may occur.