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Screening for Periodontal Disease

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are given to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The American Dental Association recommends a regular dental checkups every 6 months. Screening for periodontal disease should be part of every regular dental examination.

Screening Tests

  • Dental exam—Your dentist will perform a careful survey of the appearance of your gums. Each tooth will be checked for looseness, and your dentist will use a probe to identify and measure any spaces, known as pockets, between your gums and teeth. If you have periodontal disease, these pockets will measure more than 3 millimeters (mm) in depth.
  • Dental x-ray—This type of x-ray may reveal whether or not the bones that support your teeth show signs of deterioration. Evidence of bone loss around teeth is one of the signs of more advanced periodontal disease.

Revision Information

  • Gum (Periodontal) Disease. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/periodontaldisease/riskfactorsandprevention/01.html. Accessed August 17. 2016.

    Periodontal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/periodontal%5Fdisease/. Updated March 10, 2015. Accessed August 17. 2016.

  • Gum disease information. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: http://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease.htm. Accessed August 17. 2016.

  • Periodontal (gum) disease: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm. Updated September 2013. Accessed August 17. 2016.