As part of your regular dental check-up, a routine periodontal examination will be performed by the dentist or dental hygienist. Periodontal disease is diagnosed when there is evidence of loss of bone around the teeth and gum infection is present.
In order to determine if periodontal disease is present, a periodontal probe is used to measure the space, or pocket, between the gums and each tooth. In a healthy mouth, the pocket should measure 3mm or less and should be absent of bleeding or inflammation. A pocket measuring deeper than 3mm is a good indication of periodontal disease. Several factors including tooth mobility, bleeding, gum inflammation, pocket depths, and past history will be taken into account to identify which category you fall under.
Gingivitis is defined as inflammation, swelling, or irritation of the gums. It can be localized to one area of the mouth, but more commonly it affects all of the gum tissue. Gingivitis is caused by poor oral home care, meaning a lack of proper brushing and flossing.
When the soft, sticky substance of plaque is not properly removed from the tooth surface, the minerals in saliva cause the plaque to harden and become calculus (tartar). Plaque and calculus cause gum recession and bone loss around the teeth, along with gum infection and bleeding.
As the gum and bone continues to recede, the teeth lose their support and stability and may become loose. If periodontitis is not properly diagnosed and treated, the teeth will continue to become loose and the infection will continue to spread.