When a patient asks for a dental exploration, it is as important to check for caries as for periodontal disease. Although not widely known, PD is the main reason for tooth loss in the adult population. It is extremely common to have PD after the age of thirty and also to find problems such as gingival redness, swelling, bleeding and bone loss. Pain is not usually a symptom. This is part of the problem, and causes the disease to be unnoticed for a long period of time. Otherwise, people would request an earlier consultation.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to carry out a successful diagnosis, since the symptoms of PD are frequently hidden. Bleeding is not present all the time in smokers because of vascular constriction, caused by nicotine. Sometimes dentists pay more attention to caries detection and tend to forget periodontal disease, this is why we recommend patients to ask their dentist for a thorough gingival examination.
No periodontal diagnosis is made without the use of a periodontal probe. The probe is a basic instrument which detects periodontal problems. It is an instrument used in epidemiological studies for early and advanced detection of periodontal patients. The instrument has a handle and an active part which probes into the gums. It is marked with millimeters, so we can see how deep it penetrates. This technique must be carried out by experts who know how to apply the proper pressure.
There is a space between the tooth and the gingiva, named Sulcus, which under normal conditions will be between two and three millimeters deep. In pathological situations, the attachment of the gingiva slides down to the root and the sulcus becomes deeper. Only then it is named periodontal pocket. The probe will be used to enter inside the pocket and read its depth.
The deeper the reading, the worse the situation will be. It is understood that a deeper reading suggests a deeper pocket. If the gingiva is to detach from the tooth, it must have had previous bone loss.
It is also important to check the mobility of the teeth, gingival recession, flaring of teeth, etc…
Once this information is gathered, a diagnosis will be presented to the patient and a treatment plan shall be performed.