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It is estimated that 1 in 7 adults ages 35 to 44 have experienced some stages of gum disease, ranging from bleeding gums to advanced periodontitis. Many people may not even realize they have it!

Here are the five stages of gum disease with signs and symptoms to watch for:


The earliest sign of gum disease is bleeding when brushing or flossing. This often manifests in a pink tinge on your toothbrush or bleeding after you floss. You may also notice a bit of blood when eating foods like apples. See your dentist as this could be an early sign of gum disease.


Gingivitis is the second stage of gum disease, and it typically results in swollen and painful gums. You may also notice that you have bad breath quite consistently- regardless of what you have eaten or drank.

The gums may bleed and could secrete or seep due to plaque along the gumline. Your dentist will de-scale plaque, which may help stall and reverse the progression of gum disease with continued vigilant dental care.

Early Periodontitis

Stage three of gum disease is also known as periodontitis, the early phase. People with periodontitis or periodontal disease experience sore, swollen gums. The plaque hardens to tartar, which leads swiftly to decay.

If left untreated at this stage, gum disease can begin to damage your underlying jaw.

Moderate Periodontitis

Moderate periodontal disease is the fourth stage of gum disease, and your gums are likely receded and sore. Teeth are more easily damaged, beginning to decay and deteriorate quickly at this point. Teeth may become loose and wiggly, and the jaw is beginning to become affected and infected, too.

If you have stage four gum disease, you may sometimes experience a foul-tasting discharge from your swollen gums. This is a serious situation that merits a visit to your dentist right away.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is the fifth and final stage of gum disease, and it is likely that you will lose teeth or at least loosen teeth during this phase without immediate dental intervention. The infection impacts the jawbone, so teeth may be lost regardless. Expect chronic pain when suffering from advanced or severe periodontitis.  


If you identify the condition early, antibiotics and thorough cleaning are typically enough to thwart gum disease. However, when left untreated for a prolonged period of time, gum disease is harder to reverse and repair. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary to get rid of infection and disease.

Regular dental visits are the most effective way to diagnose gum disease early and treat the condition effectively. At the first signs of gum disease, call or visit your dental provider at Old Mt Pleasant Dentistry, in Mt Pleasant, SC. Early detection can lead to effective treatment of gum disease- and reverse the damage it can cause.