Periodontal disease is diagnosed by Dr. Greco or his dental hygienists during a periodontal examination. A periodontal probe (a 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. Greco or his hygienists will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria and saliva, and its toxic by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.
If not removed several times a day, 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.
If left untreated, the disease will continue to progress. The teeth lose more support as the gums and bone 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.
Link to General Health
Not only is Periodontal Disease the number one reason for tooth loss, there is a link with the presence of other diseases such as stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and increased risks during pregnancy. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums ? Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
- Loose teeth ? Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibers (fibers that support the tooth to the bone).
- New spacing between teeth ? Caused by bone loss.
- Persistent bad breath ? Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- Pus around the teeth and gums ? A sign that there is an infection present.
- Receding gums ? Loss of gum around a tooth.
- Red and puffy gums ? Gums should never be red or swollen.
- Tenderness or Discomfort ? Plaque, calculus, and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.