Diagnosig Periodontal Disease

To check for signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, we perform a thorough periodontal examination (also called consultation) using x-rays and a periodontal probe to measure bone levels around the teeth.

Dental professionals diagnose periodontal disease by:

probe readings greater than three millimeters
bleeding upon probing of the gums
swollen and red gums, especially between the teeth
bone loss or tartar on your x-rays

Healthy gums fit tightly against the teeth, and the space between the teeth and gums (called a sulcus) is one to two millimeters deep. When the sulcus deepens and exceeds three millimeters, it's then called a pocket. In general, the deeper the pockets, the greater the advancement of periodontal disease.

To measure the sulcus or pocket depths around your teeth, we use a special instrument with millimeter markings (called a periodontal probe). The measurement is from the bottom of the pocket, where the gum is attached to the tooth, to the top of the gums.

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We note any bleeding. Healthy gums don't bleed. Gums that bleed when probed (or when you brush and floss) are another sign of periodontal disease; We note the color and texture of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and stippled in appearance, similar to the skin of an orange. Swollen gums lose this stippled appearance.

Finally, we evaluate x-rays to establish whether there has been tartar and bone loss around your teeth. Tartar shows up on x-ray as white spikes on the sides of the teeth. Toxins producing bacteria thrive there, and it's these toxins, combined with your body's reaction to them, that destroy bone around your teeth.

In a healthy mouth, the bone comes up high around the necks of the teeth. With periodontal disease, bone is lost. When much bony tooth support is lost, the teeth get loose and have to be removed.

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