Periodontal screenings are essential to oral health. This screening, combined with regular oral exams help pinpoint and combat gingivitis as well as periodontitis, each of which is a chronic inflammatory disease. Unfortunately, periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease, is common in adults. Gum disease is tied to an array of health conditions ranging from heart problems to diabetes. Your eyes are not deceiving you; you read that last sentence correctly: untreated gum disease really can spur a deadly heart attack. This disease stems from several different factors ranging from poor oral hygiene to smoking and genetics.
The Basics of Periodontal Screenings
Periodontal screenings are examinations performed to gauge the patient’s gum health. The dentist closely examines the texture of the gums as well as their appearance. A comprehensive analysis of the gums is performed with a careful probing. The dentist will probe your gums, look for signs of bleeding, calculus deposits, and plaque that might be down in the pockets of the gums. Radiograph x-rays are also used to understand the current state of the gums. In some periodontal screenings, the dentist or dental hygienist will inquire about the patient’s family history, overall health, and dental health habits.
In most cases, gum disease is indicated by red and puffy gums that bleed, especially when flossing. However, it is possible to have gum disease without these symptoms. Coeur d’Alene Dental Center says, “That’s because periodontal disease is “silent”; it often has no symptoms. This is true even in the late stages of the disease.” The bottom line is every single person should have a periodontal screening performed at least once each year.
Why Periodontal Screenings are so Important
Periodontal screenings are necessary to prevent major irrevocable dental problems ranging from loose teeth to total tooth loss and bone loss. Meet with your dentist once every six months for an oral health exam, cleaning and periodontal screening. The dentist will screen for gum disease. This oral health expert will gauge the extent to which existing periodontitis has progressed. The dentist will also explain which treatments are necessary based on the damage that already exists from current gum disease. This early identification of gum disease will prevent the need for comparably invasive procedures such as an oral surgery necessary to repair the damage resulting from periodontitis.
Do not fall into the trap of assuming it is only tooth integrity that matters in the context of oral health. If you have gum disease and let it go untreated for months or years, it will eventually affect your overall health. Gums are comprised of tissue that serves as an essential barrier that covers and safeguards the teeth. If the gums become swollen, start to bleed or feel tender, it is an indication the body’s immune system is in action. This is a clear sign you should meet with your dentist for periodontal screenings. Ideally, you will not wait until the point in time at which it appears your gums are attempting to tell you something is wrong.
The mouth is full of all sorts of microorganisms including bacteria. A considerable portion of the bacteria in the mouth is helpful in the battle against disease. However, there are some harmful bacteria that have the potential to overtake the good bacteria and compromise the gums. You might have an abundance of such harmful bacteria as well as gum disease yet you won’t know for sure unless you visit with your dentist for a periodontal screening. The dentist will determine if you have the proper balance of bacteria, gauge whether you have gum disease, determine the extent of gum disease and explain how to prevent additional oral health problems. This screening includes a full assessment of the health of supporting bone structures and gum tissues to provide the full picture of your oral health.
Do not Attempt to Gauge Your Gum Health on Your Own
Most people understand truly healthy gums are pink in color and firm in texture. Alternatively, unhealthy gums are red in color, look somewhat spongy and/or swollen and often bleed. These are the most obvious signs of gum problems. However, this is a superficial analysis. A periodontal screening performed by an experienced dentist is necessary to determine if there are signs of gum loss, also known as gum recession. The dentist relies on a diminutive specialized dental probe to accurately measure the exact depth of the pockets between the gums and teeth. This pocket is the open area positioned around each tooth. However, only a well-trained dentist can perform this measurement.
If the dentist finds the free space becomes connected gum around two or three millimeters down, it is a sign of healthy gums. However, if there is inflammation in this space, it is a sign bacteria has accumulated. Such inflammation prompts the immune system to transmit white blood cells. Gum tissue and bacteria are subsequently destroyed by these white blood cells.
If the attached part of the gum tissue is destroyed, the pocket deepens and additional bacteria, food particles, and dental plaque will accumulate. If this pocketing goes unnoticed or is not treated in a timely manner, bone loss will inevitably occur in due time. Bone will continue to dissipate to the point that the tooth loosens and proves impossible to save.
Do not be Afraid of Periodontal Screenings
Plenty of people shy away from periodontal screenings as well as dental appointments in general, assuming these sessions will prove painful and costly. Periodontal screenings are relatively painless. Furthermore, this screening can be completed surprisingly quickly. Let our team gently examine the areas around your teeth, take measurements and gauge the health of the bone as well as the supporting tissue. We will let you know if there are any indications of an active infection.
Though periodontal screenings are certainly a minor inconvenience, they are worth it. Consider the amount of time, money and pain stemming from undetected gum disease and diminished supporting bone structure. It is better to meet with the dentist for a regular periodontal screening than deal with the fallout from compromised gums.
Pleasant Hill Dental
If you have not been to the dentist in the past six months, it is time to schedule an appointment. We will perform a periodontal screening, clean your teeth, conduct an in-depth oral examination and beautify your smile. Give us a call at (925) 692-2010 to schedule an appointment.