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Periodontitis

Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam will always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument ) gently measures the sulcus (pocket or space) between your tooth and gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The instrument helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses; the pockets get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, ets to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.

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.

Advanced Periodontitis
The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate you for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Periodontal disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaques, and tarter, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues. When these irritants remain in the pocket space they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called Scaling and Root Planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended.  It is usually done one area (quadrant) of the mouth at a time while the area is numb.  In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on the root surfaces are made smooth (planning).  This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink.  Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to control infection and healing.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planning, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean.  Your dentist may also recommend that you see a Periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).