Diagnosing Periodontal Disease

Diagnosing Periodontal Disease

May 20, 2020

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an oral bacterial infection that when left untreated can lead to tooth loss. The bacteria are usually a sticky plaque film that forms on the tooth’s enamel and eventually damages the attachment fibers and supporting bones that keep teeth in place. Although these bacteria are naturally found in the mouth, they only become harmful when left to multiply out of control. As the bacteria increase and thrive, they release some by-products that trigger the body’s defensive inflammatory response in the gums. When no treatment is offered, the inflammatory response forces the bone and gum tissue to pull away, creating deeper pockets for the bacteria to thrive and this eventually destroys the jaw bone, leading to teeth loss. These effects are experienced over several years and the severity will usually depend on how long the patient has had the disease.

Can You Identify Periodontitis at Home?

Identifying the first signs of periodontitis may not always be easy. For most people it always begins with inflammation of the gums, which is commonly referred to as gingivitis. You may also notice that the gums bleed, especially when brushing. If you are keen enough, you will notice that the gums will generally appear reddish, swollen and the teeth’s enamel will be discolored. The discoloration is due to the build-up of plaque, which is the culprit causing the symptoms.

But even with the mentioned symptoms, you cannot really tell your periodontal status, until you are examined by a dentist. And since the symptoms do not cause a great deal of discomfort for a really long time, most people will only seek treatment when the disease has advanced and damage has already occurred.

Professional Periodontal Exam

At Chaparral Valley Dental, we insist on providing all our patients with quality and effective dental care. We have invested in the skills and technology needed to test for periodontal disease, even its early stages. With proper diagnostic tests, we are able to provide effective and appropriate periodontal treatment based on each patient’s condition.

During a periodontal exam, we assess the health of both your gums and teeth. The tests usually can usually reveal if you have receding gums, exposed roots or any other dental problems. Some of the things the dentist will check for include;

  • Lumps or abnormalities in the mouth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Color, texture, size and shape of the gums
  • Dental prosthetics like fillings, crowns, dentures or implants
  • The amount of plaque on your teeth
  • The size of pockets formed between your teeth and gums

For a proper diagnosis to be made, your dentist may request for both your dental and medical histories and a dental x-ray, in addition to the clinical exam. Patients with a history of periodontal disease are at risk of getting the disease once again in future. Giving the dentist a background into your health will then help them understand the disease’s progression and even how the body responds, which could be helpful in your current treatment.

A clinical exam on the other hand gives the dentist an overview of your current periodontitis condition. Results from the oral exam are supplemented by dental x-rays and thereafter a diagnosis explaining the severity of your condition will be given. At this point, the dentist is trying to determine the amount of gum recession, tooth mobility, the occlusion state and the amount of attached gingiva. Proceeding to the dental x-rays gives additional useful information that includes;

  • The amount and location where bone loss has occurred
  • The size and shape of the roots
  • The amount of root that still remains embedded in the bone
  • How the state of each tooth affects the rest
  • The condition of the nerve in the affected tooth
  • Existence of other oral conditions

There are different types of dental x-rays that are used, and each type serves a different purpose. However, in most cases involving periodontal disease, full mouth periapicals are required. After all tests have been completed, the results are evaluated and interpreted for your benefit. You may be presented with different treatment approaches and once a decision is made, treatment plans begin.

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