Your Pre-treatment Evaluation & Oral Exam

Before treatment actually begins, your periodontist will evaluate your overall health. The evaluation includes questions about your medical and dental history, as well as a dental exam, and x-rays. The information gathered helps your dentist form and recommend a treatment plan specific to your needs.

Medical History
You’ll be asked about factors that could affect the disease or treatment, such as:
  • Artificial implants. If you have heart valve or joint replacement, you may need to take antibiotics before some or all dental treatments.
  • Smoking. If you smoke, you may be urged to cut back or quit before treatment begins.
  • Diabetes. If you have diabetes, controlling it is a key part in treating periodontal disease.
  • Pregnancy. You may need more frequent cleanings during pregnancy and some therapy may be delayed until after delivery.
  • Medications. Certain medications can affect periodontal disease. These include birth control pills and drugs for epilepsy, high blood pressure, as well as for other conditions.

Dental History
Your periodontist will ask if you have a history of periodontal disease. You’ll will be asked about dental work you have had, such as bridges or crowns, and any you plan to have done. You’ll also discuss how you’ve been taking care of your teeth, and ways to improve home care.

The Periodontal Exam
During your exam, your periodontist will check your gums for bleeding, swelling, firmness, recession, and sensitivity, as well as signs of gradual tooth movement and movement that occurs with direct pressure. Bite problems that could affect periodontal health will also be inspected. If your dentist suspects that a medical problem such as diabetes is a factor, a consultation with a physician may be necessary.


Full-mouth x-rays show each tooth, including its roots and the bone surrounding teeth. This helps detect bone loss, which helps determine the soundness of individual teeth, as well as other physical properties of the dentition.

Periodontal Probing
The main means of assessing for gum damage and bone loss is to measure how deep the pockets are. To do this, an instrument like a tiny ruler is gently inserted between the tooth and gum. Deeper pockets indicate more severe disease, and generally, a person can not clean below 4 mm depths.
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Helpful Links
We encourage you to visit the American Academy of Periodontology website at for everything you need to know about periodontal health!