Gum Disease Diagnosis

Gum disease is a progressive disease that does not have to take place if you do not let it. Excellent, above average oral hygiene is extremely important to ensure that the millions of bacteria that are living in the mouth are kept in check on a consistent basis. Faltering in how you take care of your teeth is never a good thing.

Not all bacteria in the mouth are bad but many can be harmless to the teeth and gums. These bacteria take up residence in the mouth in the form of plaque. That is why plaque must be removed from the teeth every day and not given the chance to harden and cause more damage.

Teeth Impact

Plaque will continue to develop on teeth to the point where the gums will become red, swollen, sore, puffy and irritated and this can lead to bleeding. If left undiagnosed, both bone and connective tissue in the mouth can be destroyed and teeth will then loosen. In turn this could cause teeth to fall out on their own or have to be extracted by a dentist.

Diagnosing gum disease early is key to treating it. When you go to see your dentist he will closely examine your gums to see if they appear to be unhealthy in any way. A dental instrument known as a periodontal probe will be gently manoeuvred in your mouth to measure the depth of the spaces that exist between your teeth and the gum lines. The probe resembles a tiny ruler.

The Sulcus

At the edge of where the gum line starts, gum tissue that is healthy forms what amounts to a very “shallow V-shaped groove” known as sulcus. This is sulcus is located between the teeth and the gums. Sometimes they are also referred to as periodontal pockets or simply “pockets.” In a person with a healthy mouth and normal sulcus the depth is anywhere from one to three millimetres. In people who exhibit signs of gum disease, the sulcus causes deeper pockets to develop between the teeth and gums and they can then harbour bacteria from plaque that is difficult to get rid of with simple everyday brushing and flossing.

Signs of Disease

During the exam the dentist will check to see if the gums show any signs of weakness, bleeding, inflammation or swelling and whether they are firm or not. The teeth will also be carefully checked to see whether there is any sensitivity or whether any movement is noted. The dentist will also carefully look at a person bite by asking then to close their teeth together to see if it has changed at all since their last trip to the dentist.

The dentist might ask questions of the patient regarding their medical history and their lifestyle such as what prescription medication they have taken in the past and whether they smoke or drink. Full mouth x-rays could be done to help determine whether the bone surrounding the teeth and gums is showing any signs of breaking down. If the doctor believes that a very real concern exists then he is likely to refer the patient to a periodontist.