Dr. John, how is periodontal disease diagnosed?
We use a number of techniques to go ahead and diagnose periodontal disease. The primary tool that we use in diagnosing periodontal disease is the periodontal probe. It’s a small measuring tool that we place between the gum and the tooth, to see how deep the pockets or the gap is. Normally, zero to three millimeters is considered healthy. Four millimeters is on the borderline. Five millimeters and above is potentially considered to be diseased. In addition to going ahead and looking at the pockets, we also look for other signs, for instance, bleeding. If there’s bleeding on probing or spontaneous bleeding, we look at if there’s any infection or pus that happens to be formed around the gum line area, and we look at plaque control. If there’s a lot of plaque build-up around the teeth, then there’s a more likely chance of developing a problem or a disease process. In addition, we look at x-rays. X-rays are very important in the diagnosis of periodontal disease. A lot of times, people think x-rays are just kind of a formality or a luxury. But x-rays actually are a very, very integral part in the detection of periodontal disease.