What’s the Deal With Periodontal Health, Anyway?

You’ve probably heard your dentist in Newberg, OR, talking a lot about periodontal health– but what exactly does that mean, and what does it look like for patients? Here’s the periodontal breakdown. 

The structure of a smile

Periodontal refers to your gumline and its supporting structures; this is literally the foundation that your healthy smile is built on. If there is a problem with your periodontal health, it can impact your entire mouth (and other parts of your body).

Periodontal diseases that your dentist in Newberg, OR, is on the look out for include:

  • gingivitis— swelling, bleeding, and redness of the gums– which is often the first sign that a gum health is suffering
  • periodontitis– this is a much more serious situation, one that can lead to tooth and even bone loss 

How do we check periodontal health?

A periodontal exam is an essential part of regular oral health appointments. Dr. McLeod uses a probe to gently inspect the pocket between teeth and gums, and what he’s checking for is depth– the pockets between teeth and gums should be shallow. A deep pocket indicates swelling, infection, gum recession, or another pathology. When checking periodontal health a depth of 1-3 mm is considered health, 4mm is considered a warning, and over 4mm usually indicates that a disease process is underway.

In additional to periodontal pocket depth, your dentist, Dr. McLeod, will visually examine the gums for any abnormal growths, redness, swelling, or bleeding. She will gently palpate the gum tissue to check for areas of softness or looseness in teeth. In general, this visual and manual exam will be secondary to your own report on your gum health– a loose tooth or bleeding gums, are hard to miss!

Periodontal problems

The gumline is a very important area in the mouth, and one that is particularly vulnerable to bacteria. These microscopic trouble-makers love to congregate at the gumline– especially in hard to reach areas that your brush might easily miss. Without careful daily brushing and flossing, bacterial colonies grow along the gumline, irritating the gum tissues with their acidic metabolic byproducts. 

This gum irritation is responsible for the inflammatory conditions seen in gum disease.

A bigger picture

These inflammatory conditions don’t only cause problems in the mouth! Researchers studying the oral and systemic health connection are issuing a growing number of reports on the effect of oral inflammation on the health of the entire body. For example, inflammation in the mouth has shown to be connect with endocarditis— inflammation of a layer of your heart!

For this reason, as well as your oral health, dentists are determined to both monitor periodontal health, educate patients, and play an active role in protecting this critical part of your mouth. 

More questions about periodontal problems or an exam? Call us today, or ask Dr. McLeod at your next appointment!

 

Photo Credit: Patricia Mellin via Compfight cc

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