Stage 1: Gingivitis
In this stage, the gums may be puffy and red. Bleeding during brushing, flossing, and gentle probing is encountered. The gums may or may not be sore.
Stage 2: Periodontitis (periodontal disease)
The plaque below the gumline has been left for a period of time. Unchecked, the bacteria in the plaque have produced toxic by-products. These toxins have damaged the gums, the surrounding bone, and the fibers that hold the tooth in the bone. This is an infection. Proper care at this point is necessary in order to stop the further irreversible damage.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
The fibers and bone that hold the tooth in place have been irreversibly damaged and the teeth may be loose. At this point, the long-term prognosis for the tooth may be poor because there is little left to support the tooth in the socket.
As stated above, Periodontal disease is an infection. Due to the abundant blood supply in gum tissue, any infection present will be circulated throughout the body. Periodontal disease has recently been linked to systemic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and problems with pregnancy. Fortunately, unless the disease is very advanced, we can often halt it in its tracks with timely treatment.