The detection of bacterial-specific volatile metabolites may be a valuable tool to predict infection. Here we applied a real-time mass spectrometric technique to investigate differences in volatile metabolic profiles of oral bacteria that cause periodontitis. We coupled a secondary electrospray ionization (SESI) source to a commercial high-resolution mass spectrometer to interrogate the headspace from bacterial cultures and human saliva. We identified 120 potential markers characteristic for periodontal pathogens Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (n = 13), Porphyromonas gingivalis (n = 70), Tanerella forsythia (n = 30) and Treponema denticola (n = 7) in in vitro cultures. In a second proof-of-principle phase, we found 18 (P. gingivalis, T. forsythia and T. denticola) of the 120 in vitro compounds in the saliva from a periodontitis patient with confirmed infection with P. gingivalis, T. forsythia and T. denticola with enhanced ion intensity compared to two healthy controls. In conclusion, this method has the ability to identify individual metabolites of microbial pathogens in a complex medium such as saliva.