Consultation 1 hr

You may have periodontal (gum) disease and not even realize it. That's because periodontal disease is usually not painful, especially in its early stages. To diagnose (check for) signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, we perform a thorough periodontal examination.

Periodontal disease is an infection in the gums, caused by the bacteria in plaque. When your gums are healthy, they fit tightly against your teeth. If you have periodontal disease, your gums pull away from your teeth in response to the infection.

In a healthy mouth, the space between your teeth and gums (called a sulcus) is one to two millimeters deep. When you have periodontal disease, the sulcus deepens and eventually exceeds three millimeters; it's then called a pocket.

In general, the deeper the pockets, the greater the spread of periodontal disease. During your examination, we use a special instrument with millimeter markings (called a periodontal probe) to measure the sulcus or pocket depths around your teeth.


We carefully note any bleeding as we take your periodontal measurements. Gums that bleed when probed (as well as when you brush and floss) are another sign of periodontal disease; healthy gums don't bleed.

We'll also note the color and texture of your gums. Healthy gums are pink and have a stippled appearance, similar to the skin of an orange. Swollen gums lose this stippled appearance.

Finally, we'll review x-rays of your mouth to establish whether there has been bone loss around your teeth—another indicator of periodontal disease.

If your mouth is healthy, the bone comes up high around the necks of your teeth. With periodontal disease, bone is lost. The longer it goes untreated, the more bone is lost.

To prevent the bone and tooth loss, it is critical to diagnose and treat periodontal disease as early as possible.

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