Periodontal disease or gum disease is a pathological inflammatory condition of the gum and bone support (periodontal tissues) surrounding the teeth.
Periodontal disease is diagnosed by your dentist or dental hygienist during a periodontal examination. This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.
A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and the gums. The depth of a healthy sulcus measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed. The periodontal probe helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters. As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.
Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to separate from the teeth and attachment of the teeth to the gums is decreased. Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with more plaque and toxins. The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present.