Peter A Payne DMD
Implant Dentistry and Periodontics
"Coordinating all your dental treatment"
Call: (401) 273-6161

Diagnosis

Periodontal disease is diagnosed  during a periodontal examination.  

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums.  The depth of a healthy sulcus measures one to three millimeters without bleeding.  If the sulcus is infected the lining is ulcerated, may be tender and bleed on probing  As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets  get deeper.

Your diagnosis  will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  Plaque and its toxin by-products cause inflammation in the gums - gingivitis. As long as the gum seal of dense connective tissue (pink gum) is attached to the tooth it prevents the inflammation form affecting your supporting bone, Gingivitis is reversible with a visit to the hygienist who will clean you teeth and review your brushing, flossing as well as any other oral hygiene tool you use. Daily effective oral hygiene is essential for a healthy mouth. Oral bacteria multiply enough (forming plaque) within 24 hours to cause gingivitis. The oral hygiene review is THE most important procedure dentistry will do for you. All other procedures are to repair damage done by disease.

Periodontitis

The older the bacterial colonies of plaque, the more complex and disease causing  they become.  The plaque picks up minerals from the fluids in your mouth and harden forming calculus or tarter.  When the bacteria and associated  inflammation break through the gum seal and begin to cause bone loss the gingivitis becomes periodontitis. This can occur with symptoms noticed by you. Periodontitis will progress over time. There are episodes of active breakdown and periods when the disease is being effectively controlled by your bodies' natural defenses.

The progressive loss of supporting structures (gumm and bone) of your teeth will eventually lead to tooth loss.

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