Commonly known as gum disease, periodontal disease is an infection of the gums which gradually destroys the gums and bone; the supporting tissue of teeth. The disease goes through several stages, with different signs and different treatments at each. Keep reading to learn whether you should be evaluated by Pittsburgh Periodontists Dr. Katherine L. Roll and Dr. Kelly B. Williams for gum disease.


The stages of gum disease:

  1. Gingivitis
  2. Early periodontitis
  3. Moderate periodontitis
  4. Advanced periodontitis

Signs of gingivitis

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gum recession

Gingivitis is the swelling of the gums in the early stages of an infection. By itself, gingivitis is not dangerous, and can usually be reversed with careful oral hygiene. However, if gingivitis remains over time, it will inevitably progress to periodontitis.

Signs of Periodontitis

  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth drifting/migration, or a change in the bite
  • Pus that appears between the teeth and gums when the gums are compressed
  • A change in the fit of a partial denture
  • Advanced gum recession creating deep periodontal pockets
  • Tooth loss

When a periodontal infection has progressed far enough, it begins to affect the bone tissue surrounding the teeth, weakening each tooth’s support system. This leads to looseness and movement of the teeth. The longer periodontal disease progresses, the worse this symptom gets, until the teeth are lost entirely.

How We Diagnose Periodontal Disease

Depending on your situation, we may need to perform only a short examination specific to your symptoms, or you may need a complete periodontal examination or CPE. A CPE may include any or all of the following procedures:

  • Oral cancer screening exam of all hard and soft tissues
  • Check of the condition of the saliva
  • Charting of missing, shifted or impacted teeth
  • 6 pocket measurements on each tooth
  • Gum recession measurements on each tooth
  • Recording of the mobility (looseness) on each tooth
  • Evaluation for bone damage between the roots of multi-rooted teeth
  • Assessment of abrasion (wear) on exposed roots
  • Detection and recording of decay and defective or worn restorations (fillings)
  • Assessment and recording of sites with infection (pus) or bleeding
  • Bite exam and recording of bite function and movement
  • Evaluation of major muscle groups that relate to the bite and the jaws
  • Evaluation of the TMJ (jaw joint) function
  • Evaluation for bite trauma and tooth wear
  • Measurement of maximum bite opening
  • Photographs in the mouth and of the face
  • X-ray evaluation
  • Bacteriologic testing
  • Genetic susceptibility testing
  • Obtaining study models

Once the data has been collected an accurate diagnosis can be made, and from there we will develop a treatment plan to achieve your oral health goals. Usually these goals can be summed up as follows:

  • Eliminate infection and inflammation
  • Teach oral hygiene skills to maintain health and prevent the re-occurrence of disease
  • Correct any damage to the root, bone, gum and bite
  • Establish an appropriate schedule of professional in-office maintenance

If you have noticed any of the signs of periodontal disease, or have any doubts about your dental health, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We offer quality evaluation and treatment to return you to full health and comfort. The sooner you address periodontal disease, the easier it will be to treat–so make your appointment today!

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6200 Steubenville Pike Suite 201
McKees Rocks, PA 15136

Office Hours:

Monday: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Tuesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Thursday: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Friday: Closed

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