There are many ways that a general dentist can promote gum health. Your gums play an important role in supporting your teeth and providing a barrier against harmful bacteria, so it is critical that they remain healthy and strong. Keeping your gums healthy can also help prevent tooth loss and decrease heart attack risk. The…
What a General Dentist Looks for When Examing Gums
Every person should always schedule and keep routine appointments with their general dentist every six months. These visits are very important in determining the overall health of your teeth and gums. It is at your routine visits that your dentist is able to find and begin treating any type of oral health issue. You want to find any issues early on to prevent problems further down the road.
Most people visit their dentist every six months or as recommended. At the routine cleaning, your dentist will examine your gums. What are they looking for? Your dentist checks a couple of things each time you visit to ensure your teeth are at peak health.
An all-over examination of your mouth is one of the only ways to keep your original teeth for as long as possible.
The primary thing dentists look for when examining your gums is gum disease. Early stages of gum disease exhibit signs that can usually be detected during routine dental exams.
Your dentist will check the coloring of your gums to ensure they are a healthy color. Healthy gums are usually a coral pink color. Your dentist also may poke at the gums to see if they bleed. If your gums bleed easily, it can signify gum disease.
Dentists will also utilize a probe designed to measure the pockets in your gums around your teeth to check for gum recession.
Symptoms of gum disease
Several signs can indicate gum disease. Your dentist checks for these things at each cleaning, but some of these signs include:
- Consistently bad breath
- Sensitive or loose teeth
- Tender, receding, swollen, or bleeding gums
All of these symptoms are reasons enough to see your dentist and discuss them so they can be treated as soon as possible.
What causes gum disease?
The early stages of gum disease start with a plaque on the teeth. The buildup of plaque consists of mucus, bacteria, and other particles. When the plaque remains on the teeth for prolonged periods, tartar develops, the hardened form of plaque. Once tartar has developed, it can only be removed by the dentist or dental hygienist.
Other factors can also cause an elevated risk of the development of gum diseases, such as diabetes, illnesses, genetics, and hormonal changes in both women and girls.
Gum disease left untreated, can be very harmful to your health over time and affect your body’s overall health, not just your gums.
How do dentists treat gum disease?
The treatment of gum disease is dependent on the patient. Your general dentist will determine the best course of action during the dental exam. Treatment may involve scaling and polishing, which is essentially the standard cleaning that is done during a dental exam.
Root planing may also be used for treatment but only if necessary. It is a thorough cleaning process that targets the bacteria adhered to the roots of the teeth. Since it may be painful, patients sometimes need a local anesthetic.
Periodontal surgery is used in extreme cases if other treatment options will not fix the problem.
How do I prevent gum disease?
Prevention of gum disease starts at home. General dentists can only do so much during the two cleanings done each year, so much of the preventive care falls on the patient.
You should ensure you are brushing and flossing every day. This will help remove the buildup of plaque and bacteria from the day. Routine visits to the dentists are wise, as your dentist will monitor your gums for early signs of gum disease and can address them as they arise. However, if left unchecked, you may be facing extensive treatment to bring your gums back to a healthy state.
Talk to your dentist
Your dentist is your best defense against many health issues associated with bad oral health. Everyone wants to take care of their teeth so they last for a lifetime, and seeing your dentist regularly is one of the only ways to ensure that you do.
Use your dental check-ups to ask questions and take control of the health of your teeth and gums. Ask the hygienist if they have any suggestions about how you can better brush your teeth or point out any areas you are missing.
You want to do all you can to be sure your mouth stays as healthy as possible. Discussing your options with your dentist is a great first step.
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