Testing & Diagnosis for Periodontal Diseases in Children

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Contact the Periodontics Program

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Tests

Periodontal disease is usually diagnosed based on a complete history and physical examination of your child's mouth. Your child's physician will probably refer him to a dentist for complete evaluation and treatment, where he'll probably have x-rays of his teen taken.

How do dental x-rays help diagnosis?

An x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film. An x-ray helps a dentist determine precisely which teeth are affected by periodontal disease and determine treatment.

What are the different types of periodontal disease?

The different types of periodontal disease are often classified by the stage the disease has advanced to at the time of evaluation, including:

Gingivitis

With gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease, the gums are likely to become red, swollen and tender, causing them to bleed easily during daily cleanings and flossing.

Gingivitis can be divided into four groups, including:

  • acute - gingivitis that has sudden onset, does not last long and is painful
  • subacute - a less severe form of acute gingivitis
  • recurrent - gingivitis that returns after treatment
  • chronic - gingivitis that has slow onset, lasts a long time and is usually painless

Treatment by your child's dentist and proper, consistent care at home help resolve the problems associated with gingivitis. If the gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis.

Mild periodontitis

Untreated gingivitis leads to mild periodontitis. This stage of gum disease shows evidence of the bone around the tooth starting to erode. The following are the most common symptoms of periodontitis:

  • red, bleeding gums
  • bad taste in the mouth
  • pockets around the bottom of the teeth in the gum line
  • the teeth may become loose and spread apart (as the disease worsens)
  • tooth loss

Prompt medical attention is necessary to prevent further erosion and damage.

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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

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