If you schedule regular dental exams, your dentist can catch periodontal disease before the gums and the bone supporting your teeth are severely damaged.

  • During a periodontal evaluation, the dentist or hygienist uses a periodontal probe to gently measure the spaces between the teeth and gums. In a healthy mouth, this space (pocket) is usually less than three millimeters deep. Very deep pockets are a sign of advanced periodontal disease.
  • He or she usually takes x-rays to check the bone supporting the teeth. Low bone levels can be a sign of damage from periodontal disease.
  • If periodontal disease is diagnosed, your dentist may provide treatment or may refer you to a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease).

Periodontal probe of healthy gums.


Periodontal probe in a periodontal pocket.


X-ray showing supporting bone.


X-ray showing periodontal bone loss.