disease, commonly referred to asgum disease,
is one of the most common chronic diseases known. The more severe form of the disease, periodontitis, causes bone loss around
teeth and is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Currently it is estimated that almost 50% of
the adult population over the age of 30 has some form of periodontitis. Gum disease in the earliest stage, and before
the loss of bone around teeth (gingivitis),
therefore important that every adult receive a comprehensive periodontal examination at least annually. For this examination you should expect to
receive the following from your dentist (the dental hygienist may collect some
of this information also):
An oral cancer screening. Consists of a
thorough check of the areas of your head and neck, along with the inside of
your mouth, for any abnormalities in tissue color or texture.
Full periodontal probing. Consists of taking
measurements of the space between your tooth and gum which is an indication of
where the tooth, gum, and bone all come together to attach. Normally the depth of this measurement is
between 2-4mm below the gum line.
Recession measurements. Even though your probing depths may be normal, you can still
have recession of the gum tissue causing your tooth to have some of the root
surface exposed making the tooth appear longer.
Bleeding on probing. During your periodontal
examination, it will be noted if areas of bleeding occur during the taking of
the measurements. This is a sign of
inflammation and/or infection. Healthy
gums should NEVER bleed during the examination or when you brush and floss your
teeth. If your gums are tender during
the exam that is another sign that they are inflamed.
A complete set of x-rays. To assess the level of
bone that supports your teeth.
Assessment of your bite. Called occlusion, to evaluate how
your teeth come together. Sometimes in
people with periodontal disease, teeth can move and separate changing your
Plaque control assessment. The primary cause of
periodontal disease is bacteria. We do
know however that there are genetic factors that may make you especially
susceptible. An important role of a dental
hygienist is to educate and help improve your personal home care to minimize
the accumulation of bacterial plaque.
Following a periodontal examination (based on
the severity of disease and risk factors), the dentist may refer the patient to
a periodontist who is a specialist
in managing periodontal disease.