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Your Health

Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease can be diagnosed during a regular dental examination. Your dentist will perform a careful survey of the appearance of your gums, check each tooth for looseness, and use a probe to identify and measure any spaces, known as pockets, which may have formed between your gums and teeth. In periodontal disease, these pockets will measure more than 3 mm (millimeters) in depth. Your dentist may also do a dental x-ray . This type of x-ray can reveal whether or not the bones that support your teeth show signs of deterioration. Evidence of bone loss around teeth is one of the signs of more advanced periodontal disease.

Because early symptoms of gingivitis can be difficult to detect, you should have a regular dental checkup every six months.

Revision Information

  • Disease, gum (periodontal disease). American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/3063.aspx. Accessed July 27, 2011.

  • Gum disease: what you need to know. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: http://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease.htm. Accessed July 27, 2011.

  • Periodontal (gum) disease. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/GumDisease. Updated March 2011. Accessed July 27, 2011.