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How to Diagnose Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known simply as "gum disease," is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up, in order to maintain a healthy mouth, and prevent possible tooth loss.

Diagnosis of Gum Disease

A periodontal probe (a small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (the pocket or space) between your tooth and gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less, and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if these pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets will usually become deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, and other measurements to make a diagnosis that will fall into one of the following categories of gum disease:


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


A more severe form of gum disease, which should be treated immediately to prevent longer-term problems. In this case, plaque hardens into calculus, also known as tartar. As calculus and plaque continue to build up, your gums begin to recede from your teeth. Deeper pockets form between your gums and teeth, and become filled with bacteria and pus. Your gums will likely become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The most severe form of gum diseases, in which your teeth lose more support as your gums, bone, and periodontal ligaments continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost forever. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present, as well.

The doctors and staff at The Colorado Center for Implant and Prosthetic Dentistry are available to help you determine effective solutions to all of your dental problems. If you would like more information from your Littleton area Prosthodontist, please call to make an appointment today.

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