Periodontal Exam


A periodontal exam is performed to evaluate gum health and diagnose infection both past and present.


Depending on your condition, the periodontist may call for a limited or full mouth exam. A limited exam pertains to a certain area of the mouth. A patient who receives a limited exam most likely has good standing oral health but their general dentist wanted a specialists opinion on a particular tooth or area of their mouth.


A full mouth exam is usually performed on a patient who hasn’t seen a dentist in awhile - we’re talking years. A full mouth exam is important in this case to get a complete overview of the patient’s oral health. 


During your periodontal exam, the following may be evaluated: 


  • gums,

  • exposed roots,

  • cheeks,

  • tongue,

  • roof of mouth,

  • bite alignment, and

  • plaque.


Your periodontist will use a dental instrument called a periodontal probe. It has a long, narrow head that’s blunted at the tip and has black marks along it. Essentially, it’s a measuring stick. The narrow, blunted head allows your dentist to check for gaps - better known as pockets - between your gums and teeth. The black marks helps your dentist figure out how deep the pockets are. 


Based on the results of your examination, your periodontist will make a diagnosis and may recommend you make an appointment for periodontal treatment. Keep in mind, the more pockets you have and the deeper they are will require more intense treatment.