A periodontal examination completed by your dentist or dental hygenist is used to diagnose periodontal disease. A periodontal examination exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.
Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. The toxin by-product of plaque irritate the gums, making them inflamed, tender, and likely to bleed.
The hardened form of plaque is tartar (calculus). As tartar and plaque build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deep pockets then form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria. Periodontis causes the gums to become irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may also occur.
During advanced periodontis the teeth lose more support as the bone, gums, and periodontal ligament continue to be deteriorate. Without treatment, the affected teeth will become loose and may even be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may also be present.