Periodontal disease is diagnosed by Dr. Bramer with help from our dental hygienists, Polly and Amanda, during a periodontal examination. This type of exam is typically part of your regular dental recare exam (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.
Dr. Bramer will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Plaque and its toxin byproducts irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed. Gingivitis can be a precursor to the more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis.
Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.
The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.