While gleaming pearly whites can reflect good oral health, pink gums reveal good gum health. Screening for gum disease is more than just taking a quick look at your gums and asking if you floss every day. It’s actually a very detailed process that evaluates the health of the gum tissues and where they attach at specific areas of your teeth.
Diagnosing periodontal problems early on will provide you with the opportunity for noninvasive therapy that reverses the condition. On the other hand, waiting too long could result in complete loss of the tooth.
The Probing Process
The main part of the periodontal screening is what we refer to as “probing.” We use a thin, rounded measuring device that is slid just below the gumlines against the tooth. As the measuring device is placed, it drops to the bottom of the gum “pocket” where the gums are physically attached to the tooth. Each tooth has a minimum of six different areas that are recorded into your clinical chart.
Interpreting the Results
A healthy gum pocket will be less than 3mm deep. If plaque biofilm or tartar buildup is present, the gums may become diseased and start detaching from the tooth. As pockets become deeper, say, 5 to 6mm deep, it is an indication that bone loss has also started to take place.
These deep areas are impossible to clean at home with regular brushing and flossing, so they must be identified for professional therapy. Waiting too long to address them will result in further detachment deeper than 7mm, which is considered advanced periodontal disease.
Other symptoms of gum disease include
- Food packing between the teeth during meals
- Sore gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Swelling, redness, or gum recession
- Tooth mobility
- Bad breath
- Bone loss visible on dental X-rays
What Comes Next
Addressing the areas of active gum disease will need to be done in a timely manner, otherwise the tissues will continue to detach and cause other areas to suffer. A deep cleaning (periodontal scaling and root planing) may be required to help establish a clean, controlled environment that can be maintained.
If you’ve never had a periodontal screening or suspect that you may have symptoms of gum disease, don’t wait. Call us to schedule an exam today.