Periodontal (Gum) Disease
The word periodontal means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. If plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). When plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone. Periodontal disease is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Four out of five people have periodontal disease and many don’t know it. Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in the early stages. Not only is it the number one reason for tooth loss, research suggests that there may be a link between periodontal disease and other diseases such as, stroke, bacterial pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk during pregnancy. Smoking also increases the risk of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by a dentist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up. A periodontal probe is gently used to measure the pocket between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.
Pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, and bone levels viewed on x-rays are used to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below: