Stages of Gum Disease

Stages of Gum Disease

Left untreated, gum disease is likely to cause eventual tooth loss as well as other health risks.

There are three stages of gum disease, each with their own form of treatment.

The three stages of gum disease are:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

Gum disease is preventable, reversible, and treatable

Gum disease is preventable, reversible, and treatable – but only if the symptoms are recognized, a diagnosis is sought, and treatment is undergone when needed. Untreated, gum disease can lead to swelling, pain, loose or missing teeth, and bone loss. Gum disease can even contribute to a number of other systemic health conditions, some of them fatal.

Identifying the beginning of gum disease

Healthy gums lie flat against the surface or the tooth, are firm and pink, and do not bleed during brushing or flossing.


When bacteria gets in between the gum and the tooth, and isn’t removed, it decays and turns into plaque. The gums become irritated, and may bleed, swell, or appear red and puffy; bad breath may also be present. At this point gingivitis is present.


The continued presence of plaque and bacteria causes inflammation, and the gum pulls away from the tooth, forming a pocket. More bacteria can now easily fit between the gum and the tooth, and the cycle of infection worsens into periodontitis.

Advanced Periodontitis

As periodontitis advances, the pockets become larger. The gums remain permanently swollen and lose their tone, becoming floppy. Tooth begin to loosen, and the underlying bone structure supporting the teeth weakens and dissolves, causing tooth loss.

Gum disease treatments can be non-invasive or surgical

Early diagnosis and treatment of gingivitis with antibiotics can reverse the condition. For patients with periodontitis, laser gum treatment may be required as well as scaling and planing to remove stubborn plaque below the gum line.

In advanced cases, bone grafts may be required, and lost teeth may be replaced with dental implants to restore form, functionality, and beauty to a patient’s smile. Dr. Zalewsky will discuss options with patients diagnosed with gum disease, and recommend the best course of treatment based on the stage of the disease.

Left untreated, gum disease is likely to cause eventual tooth loss as well as other health risks. Contact us for an appointment at our Washington D.C. or Alexandria, VA offices.

Dr. Justin Zalewsky, Dr. Michael Hoge, and the Precision Periodontics and Implant Dentistry team offer a range of periodontal treatment options to the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. area, including residents seeking a periodontist in Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Chevy Chase, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Springfield. Please contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Zalewsky or Dr. Hoge, or request your appointment online.