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Periodontal diseases can be  diagnosed by a periodontist such as Dr. FitzPatrick, or your family dentist during a periodontal examination.  This type of exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up with your general dentist. Dental hygienists are trained to detect the various signs associated with health and disease, but they cannot, by law, make a clinical diagnosis. Only a periodontist or another licensed dentist is legally qualified to make a diagnosis.

A periodontal probe (small dental instrument) is gently used to measure the sulcus ( space) between the tooth and the gums.  The depth of a healthy sulcus is relatively shallow, usually measuring about three millimeters or less, and does not bleed.  As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting tissues around the teeth become inflamed or infected and the space deepens; now referred to as a pocket. Many studies have shown that as pockets get deeper, they reach a threshold where a patient can no longer maintain health, in spite of focussed efforts to carry out adequate plaque control.

Dr. FitzPatrick will use pocket measurement, presence or absence of bleeding and/or suppuration (pus) on probing, visual signs of inflammation, tooth mobility, interpretation of x-rays etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category broadly reflected in the terms below:


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.  Plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.


Plaque hardens into calculus (tartar).  As calculus and plaque continue to build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth.  Deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth and become filled with bacteria and possibly pus.  The gums become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily.  Slight to moderate bone loss can be detected.

Advanced Periodontitis

The teeth lose more support as the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament continue to be destroyed.  Unless treated, the affected teeth will become very loose and may be lost. Moderate to severe bone loss may be present.

Mucogingival Defects

Areas of gum recession causing exposed roots can lead to sensitive teeth and  decay. These conditions may be a result of disease, abnormal habits, genetics or anatomical considerations.

Excessive frenum pull on the gum margin may lead to recession or bone loss. High frenum attachemnt on the tongue side of the lower teeth ("tongue tied") can prevent normal speech development in children.



Read what people are saying about us.

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I have received regular dental care and cleaning all my life. I was very surprised to learn that I had moderate periodontal disease mostly due to crowded teeth. After thorough evaluation and explanation by Dr.
FitzPatrick, I decided that LANAP treatment was right for me.
The procedure was only mildly uncomfortable with no bleeding and no need for any kind of pain medication afterward. Since the treatment was completed in only two sessions, it did not cause any disruption to my daily routine.
Now, two and one-half years later I continue my periodontal therapy and am very satisfied with my LANAP outcome.
I highly recommend Dr. Fitzpatrick and his staff to anyone who needs periodontal treatment.

Dale Nicholson Mountaintop, PA

"It has now been about nine months since my implant work was completed, and it is well past time to thank you for your magnificent performance. I have not had a single problem with either the functioning or the appearance of my 'new mouth'.

While it obviously was not a 'walk in the park' to get the job completed, you exerted every effort to keep the discomfort to a minimum-and you were successful. Your professionalism is of the highest quality in all respects.

It has been the first summer in several years that I have been able to savor and enjoy corn on the cob and thick steaks. What a joy! Initially, I had my doubts that it would be worth all the expense, but now that the arduous work is behind me, the results prove that it was. I am immensely grateful to you and my restoarative dentist, and I would be pleased to recommend your services to anyone who is contemplating similar work."

Richard Nachman Milford, PA

"I had been dealing with periodontal disease for a number of years, having had minor surgical procedures. When my dentist recommended that I needed extensive periodontal surgery, I was ready. I had been aware of the LANAP treatment and I am happy I did it. Dr. FitzPatrick explained everything. I had the procedure and follow-up visits and the results were great. I would reccomend the LANAP to anyone who needs periodontal treatments."

Edward S. Wicks Clarks Summit, PA

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