Periodontal disease is diagnosed by either a dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination, which is usually a part of your regular dental checkup. It is mainly diagnosed through two methods: measuring pocket depth and dental X-rays.
Measuring Pocket Depth with an Instrument
As plaque builds up, it results in acid that easts into the teeth and gums, which causes pockets of space to appear between the two. This pocket depth is identified using a metal periodontal probe, which is inserted beneath the gum line. A pocket depth in the range of 1-3 mm is considered normal. However, people with pocket depths greater than 5 mm may have periodontal disease.
Once the pocket depth has been measured and the dentist identifies it as a problem, X-rays are taken to determine whether there is any kind of bone loss. Bone loss is typically a sign of an advanced periodontal disease.
Depending on the severity of your periodontal disease, your diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
This is the first stage of periodontal disease and is, therefore, the mildest. It is characterized by swollen, tender gums that are likely to bleed.
This is when plaque has hardened into calculus (tartar). As the plaque and calculus continue to buildup, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. The pockets between the teeth and gums become deeper and become filled with bacteria and pus. In addition, the gums very inflamed and bleed easily and slight bone loss may also be present.
The teeth become less supported as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be damaged. Unless treated, the effected teeth will become quite loose and may be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may also be present.
If you would like to learn more about diagnosing periodontal disease, please contact our dental office in Scottsdale, Arizona, at 480-374-8557 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Thomas Sims or Dr. Liz Wallmann.