Your dentist or dental hygienist will conduct a periodontal examination, usually as part of your regular check-up, to evaluate your risk of developing or to diagnose the disease. Your dentist or hygienist will use a periodontal probe to measure the space between each tooth and your gums. This space, known as the sulcus, should not bleed when probed and should measure less than three millimeters deep when it’s healthy.

The exam gives your dentist an accurate look at the health of your gums around every tooth, and allows them to determine which teeth are at risk of developing, or have developed, periodontal disease. Along with the probe measurements, we also consider inflammation, tooth mobility, and bleeding before making a diagnosis.

There are three periodontal diagnosis your dentist can make, depending how advanced the condition:

Gingivitis

The first stage of periodontal disease is called Gingivitis. You may have heard the name, but gingivitis is the result of Plaque and its toxic by-products irritating your gums, which causes them to become inflamed, tender, and more likely to bleed.

Periodontitis

When plaque is allowed to harden into tartar, it is easier for a buildup to form where gums meet teeth. This buildup causes the gums to recede from the teeth, forming deeper pockets between them, which can become filled with bacteria and pus. Gums affected by Periodontitis bleed easily, can be very irritated, and are inflamed. There may also be minor to moderate bone loss.

Advanced Periodontitis

As gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments become more damaged, teeth lose support and may become loose. If left untreated, affected teeth could be lost. There may be generalized bone loss in moderate to severe cases.

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