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Periodontal Disease Diagnosis
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist during a periodontal examination. The clinical team, including the dentist, assistant, and dental hygienist, are involved in collecting the information and synthesizing it into a proper diagnosis. Having an appropriate gum disease diagnosis in Littleton or Aurora, Colorado with the Periodontal Associates team is crucial in determining the types of therapies that are needed and understanding the risk of disease progression.
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus or “pocket” depth between the tooth and the gums. You may have heard your dentist calling off numbers (2, 3, 4, 3, 5 etc.) during your exam. These numbers relate to the depth of the pocket space and are measured in millimeters. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures 3 millimeters or less and does not bleed. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting bone pockets get deeper due to advancing bone loss and the pocket depths increase as well. When gum disease progresses and there is greater inflammation, then the gums can bleed and be uncomfortable. Pocketing less than 3mm can be normally cleaned without discomfort, but when pocketing gets more than 5mm then the gums may need to be numbed to properly clean the teeth. For cases of severe gum disease, there are regenerative therapies that can re-grow the lost bone support around teeth.
When diagnosing gum disease, the Littleton and Aurora periodontists and hygienists at Periodontal Associates will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed. Gingivitis is an early or mild stage of the disease as there has not been supporting bone breakdown yet.
Periodontitis involves the breakdown of the supporting structures around teeth and is thus a more severe type of gum disease
Staging and Grading
In 2017, a new system of diagnosing was established and describes the staging and grading of the disease. The staging of the disease describes how much breakdown has already occurred. Staging takes into account bone loss as seen on the X-rays and probing measurements, how many teeth have been lost, any tipping of teeth, and chewing disfunction. Grading of the disease describes the unique risk that the patient has in regards to future disease. Grading takes into account the amount of disease present and relates it to the amount of bacterial plaque and calculus. Those that have considerable plaque and calculus and minimal supporting bone loss would be at a lower risk compared to patients with more bone loss and less plaque and calculus. Grading also takes into account systemic conditions like uncontrolled diabetes and habits like smoking that worsen the patients’ ability to combat gum disease. Periodontists have taken several more years beyond dental school to fully understanding the nuances of these factors and how they relate to the risk of disease progression. This is why many general dentists request our participation in guiding their patients through periodontal therapies. Effective diagnosing and treatment planning can maintain or enhance peoples smiles and chewing function, while also minimizing the number of procedures.
Diagnosis of Gum Disease in Aurora and Littleton
If you suspect you have gum disease, our experts can confirm or rule out a problem upon evaluation. To request an appointment
with the periodontists at Periodontal Associates, please fill out the form on our website or call (303) 755-4500
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