The dental diagnoses of periodontal disease and cavities are two of the most important aspects of every dental exam.
Many people have periodontal disease and do not even know it. Because they may not have any symptoms, the dentist will need to take X-rays of the gums, and he or she will also have to use a periodontal probe to measure bone levels around the teeth.
This is done to check or periodontal pockets, which form when bone levels fall and pull away from the tooth. Measuring the depth of this pocket is a vital step in arriving at a conclusive dental diagnosis. Measurement is taken from the bottom of the pocket, where the gum is attached, to the top of the gums.
The presence of any amount of pocket is a problem. Healthy gums always lay tight against the teeth. In the early stage of Periodontitis, pockets will begin to form. In deeper the pockets are, the greater the degree of periodontal disease.
Bleeding gums are a sure sign of infection. Healthy gum tissue does not bleed. In order to make a sound dental diagnosis to this effect, the dentists examines the color and shape of your gums. If the gums are pink and have a lightly stippled appearance something like that of an orange, we can say that they are healthy.
If they appear red or swollen, this is a sign of an infection and an indicator of moderate periodontal disease. Swollen gums lose their stippling as well, and appear completely smooth.
In seeking an accurate dental diagnosis, X-rays will tell us a great deal about periodontal disease. When there is no Periodontitis, the bone rises high around the necks of the teeth and is even throughout the mouth. However, when gum disease strikes, bone levels fall to levels that are noticeably lower than they are in a healthy mouth.
So to briefly review, a conclusive dental diagnosis of periodontal disease will normally consist of the following:
1. A probe reading of more than three millimeters
2. Gums that bleed when they are probed
3. Gums that are swollen and read, particularly between teeth
4. Bone loss or tartar appearing on X-rays
Plaque is also a major cause of Periodontitis. Plaque has bacteria that produce acid. This acid eats away at the enamel of teeth and causes cavities.
Discovering cavities is easy at times. At other times, it is very difficult. In order to make a conclusive dental diagnosis of cavities in hard-to-reach places, the dentist will use a dental explorer and X-rays. The dentist will check the tops and sides of your tooth with a dental explorer.
X-rays are needed to look for cavities between teeth. Cavities show up as dark spots in these X-rays and are readily identified.
It is so much better to find cavities while they are sill small and only penetrate the enamel layer of a tooth. If they penetrate to the dentin layer, they will grow very rapidly down to the pulp chamber. Decay at this level will require a root canal to repair.