Among the causes for periodontal (gum) disease are genetic susceptibility, smoking, and other illnesses like diabetes. Periodontal maintenance involves removing plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Most gum diseases are preventable with proper oral hygiene. However, what can start out as gingivitis (inflamed or bleeding gums) can quickly turn into periodontitis. In such cases, gums pull away from the tooth to create “pockets,” thereby exposing a dental root to infection. It can also lead to prolonged bad breath, loose teeth, painful chewing and other complications.
Diagnosing Gum Disease
If you are unsure of your gum condition, our doctors will provide you with a consultation. Typically to determine whether you have periodontitis and how severe it is, your dentist may:
Review your medical history to identify any factors that could be contributing to your symptoms, such as smoking or taking certain medications that cause dry mouth.
Examine your mouth to look for plaque and tartar buildup and check for easy bleeding.
Measure the pocket depth of the groove between your gums and teeth by placing a dental probe beside your tooth beneath your gumline, usually at several sites throughout your mouth. In a healthy mouth, the pocket depth is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters (mm). Pockets deeper than 4 mm may indicate periodontitis. Pockets deeper than 6 mm cannot be cleaned well.
Take dental X-rays to check for bone loss in areas where your dentist observes deeper pocket depths.
Preparing for your Consultation
Prior to your visit, try answering a few of these questions as the doctor find these essential to your periodontal condition:
When did you first start experiencing symptoms?
Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
How often do you brush your teeth?
Do you use dental floss? How often?
How often do you see a dentist?
What medical conditions do you have?
What medications do you take?
Do you use tobacco products?