Gum Disease Diagnosis

Gum Disease/Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination.  This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.


Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and pus. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Generalized moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Gum Disease Diagnosis

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is most commonly caused by plaque buildup on the teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film that is made up of bacteria. Other common factors that can contribute to gum disease include:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Tobacco use
  • Specific medications
  • Genetic factors
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor nutritional habits

Gum Disease Diagnosis

Gum Disease Systemic Links

About 2/3 or more of the population have some degree of gum disease. By ignoring signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, gum soreness, receding gums, bad breath, and sores on the gums, you could put your teeth as well as your health at risk.

Systemic links include:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Some cancers
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Ulcers
  • Respiratory infections
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes

Whether you have any of the aforementioned conditions or are at risk for them, there is a strong link between them and gum disease. Neglecting gums could exacerbate an existing condition, it could up your chances of other diseases. Of course, there’s also the fact that the active infection in your mouth continually puts stress on your immune system. Gum disease is an ongoing infection in the mouth. It enters the bloodstream continually and the list of associated problems is lengthy.

Get Your Gums Treated Today

If you suspect that you have a gum disease, don’t wait. Reach out to our Dothan dental office today to schedule an appointment and discuss treatment plans. As big advocates of preventative dentistry, our ultimate goal is to ensure you a lifetime of good oral and overall health.

Gum Disease Diagnosis