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Diagnosing Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease – also known as gum disease and periodontitis – is a common condition that leads to inflammation of the gums, redness, tenderness, and bleeding. Essentially, it affects the soft tissues around the tooth, and in its advanced stages it can also impact the jawbone. It can also lead to infection, destroying tissues in the mouth and eventually leading to tooth loss.

To diagnose periodontal disease, a small instrument is used to gently measure the space or pocket between gums and teeth. A healthy distance sits at about three millimeters or less, and the gums here do not bleed when brushed or flossed. These pockets get deeper as the disease progresses, so the instrument helps indicate the severity of the condition. By measuring these pockets as well as the amount of inflammation, bleeding, and tooth mobility, the diagnosis falls into one of three categories:

Gingivitis
This is the first and least severe stage of periodontal disease. Gingivitis causes plaque, toxins, acids, and bacteria to irritate the gums. This leads to tenderness and inflammation, and possibly bleeding. Gingivitis is reversible with professional cleanings and excellent homecare.

Periodontitis
When plaque hardens, it becomes a substance called calculus (tartar). As it builds up along with the regular plaque, your gums start receding. The pockets in your teeth and gums begin to deepen, filling with bacteria and pus. At this stage of periodontal disease, the gums become very irritated and inflamed, bleeding easily. Furthermore, you may even experience slight to moderate bone loss.

Advanced Periodontitis
This is the last and final stage of Periodontal Disease. Teeth continue losing support as your gums, bone, and periodontal ligament is gradually destroyed. If the condition goes untreated, the teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. You will experience moderate to severe bone loss, and your risk of stroke, heart attack, and other systemic diseases will increase.

If you or a loved one might have periodontal disease, do not delay getting a diagnosis! This condition can start small, but if ignored it can grow into a serious health hazard. The diagnosis is simple, quick, and effective. To set up an appointment with our office or for more information on diagnosing periodontal disease, call us today at (562) 434-6414.

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