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How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?

Periodontitis, colloquially referred to as gum disease, is an all-too-common issue that thousands of people deal with every day. If you have not experienced the condition yourself, odds are you know someone who has. If you have ever heard a friend or relative habitually complaining about sensitive or loose teeth, they likely have periodontal disease.

What Causes Periodontitis?

Periodontal disease occurs as a direct result of neglecting one’s dental health. That’s because neglect gives plaque and tartar plenty of time to accumulate and cause lasting damage. Plaque eats into the gums and creates periodontal pockets, which serve as a welcome nesting area for bacteria. If left untreated, this bacteria will turn into an infection and result in a slew of problems.

Fortunately, modern technology has made diagnosing gum disease relatively easy. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in the next section, your medical provider will be able to conduct a variety of tests in order to determine the cause.

Symptoms of Periodontitis

Symptoms of periodontal disease include swollen gums, halitosis (bad breath), bleeding gums, receding gums, loose or sensitive teeth, problems while chewing, and signs of pus in-between teeth. While any of these problems on their own don’t necessarily mean you have gum disease, it is always a good idea to consult with your dentist if you notice them. Preventative care is always cheaper in the long run.

Diagnosing Periodontitis

Gum disease is diagnosed by severity using two primary methods that give the doctor an idea of how much tartar and plaque have built-up in the mouth. The first method involves measuring the depth of the periodontal pocket. When plaque builds up it creates more acids, which subsequently eat into the gums and teeth, causing pockets to form. The dentist will measure the depth of these pockets with a probe that is inserted just below the gum line. Anything outside of the normal 1-3mm depth could be a sign of periodontal disease.

If the dentist determines that the pocket depth is a problem, they will take x-rays to see if there has been any bone loss. This will give them an idea of how advanced the periodontitis has become.

Classifying Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease can assume several forms. Which one you have is dependent on your age and the symptoms you are experiencing. The most common form is called gingivitis, which is signified by enflamed gum tissue. If left untreated, it can quickly morph into a more advanced form of periodontitis known as chronic periodontal disease. This is where bone tissues and gums become even more degraded, conditions that are typically accompanied by receding gums.

If you have chronic periodontal disease and are a smoker or a diabetic, you are at high risk of developing aggressive periodontal disease, which results in a rapid loss of bone and tissue. Even worse, if you have a medical condition such as HIV, malnutrition, or even chronic stress, you are at risk of developing necrotizing periodontal disease, which involves rapid degradation of the bones in-between the teeth.

If you or a loved one are exhibiting symptoms of periodontal disease, the trained professionals at Access Dental are more than qualified to get you on the road to recovery.