Periodontal Checks and Their Importance
One of two adults over the age of 30 has periodontal disease. At Madison Family Dental, we have always been committed to your dental and overall health. Of the different periodontal services we offer, once a year our hygienists perform a periodontal evaluation for our patients as part of their regular hygiene cleaning and check-up. We ask patients to Know Your Numbers.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
As plaque and calculus (also known as tartar — plaque that has hardened and is what is cleaned off during a professional dental cleaning) build up on teeth, the body reacts to it by becoming inflamed. If the plaque and calculus are not cleaned off regularly or there are other health factors affecting someone’s inflammatory response, the body will continue to fight the buildup like dirt in an unwashed cut. This inflammatory response causes the bone and gum tissue to pull away from the tooth, which causes deeper pockets in which bacteria can flourish.
Sadly, there are also many factors that contribute to tipping the balance from a healthy mouth to a diseased state.
- high blood pressure
- poor nutrition
- blood cell disorders
- poor sleep
- tobacco and alcohol
- steroid treatment
- dry mouth syndrome
- not keeping your regular six-month dental cleanings
- lack of adequate oral health care
- crowding of teeth
Why Is It Such a Big Deal? Because of the potential adverse health effects.
There are many reasons to keep your teeth clean and free of bacteria. If periodontal disease is not caught early you can end up losing bone and gum tissue, which is the support structure for your teeth. No treatment can lead to worsening of the problem and ultimately tooth loss. There is also very strong evidence linking the health of your mouth to your overall health throughout the rest of your body — for example, a link has already been made between severe gum disease, strokes, diabetes, and heart attacks.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease, like many other serious diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, has symptoms that are often absent or subtle and only become apparent after much damage is done. The fact that symptoms are often not obvious is why we take annual measurements of your gum tissue and record bleeding so we can closely monitor changes and treat areas conservatively and early in the disease process.
What Exactly Happens During a Periodontal Check?
A periodontal exam involves taking six measurements around each tooth to measure the depth of the space between the tooth and gums. In addition to these measurements, we also measure any recession (movement of the gum tissue down the root of the tooth exposing the root), any loosening or mobility of the teeth, and if there are any visual signs of inflamed gum tissue.
Why Does My Hygienist Do Periodontal Checks?
All of the information collected at your periodontal check helps us determine if someone has gum disease or even the very beginning stages of gum disease. We complete this exam once a year on our adult patients in accordance with the standards set by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology, the body that makes recommendations and oversees the dental specialty of periodontics which focuses on diseases and conditions of the gums and bone in the mouth.
Preventing Periodontal Disease is Something That’s Necessary for Your Health
At the most, your toothbrush can only reach 2-3 millimeters below the gum tissue to effectively clean it out. This is why a professional cleaning is needed every 6 months and why a complete periodontal exam is needed to fully assess the health of the gums and bone in the mouth. Many other offices do only a quick spot check or no exam at all. We believe that you need to Know Your Numbers, and a complete exam is the only way to properly determine if you have gum disease.
By doing this exam on a yearly basis, we can catch gum disease in its earliest stages when often only very small interventions are needed to halt or reverse it before permanent damage occurs.