When most people think about maintaining a healthy mouth, they tend to focus on the teeth. Caring for your teeth is important, but so too is taking care of your gums. More than half of all Americans are dealing with some form of periodontal, or gum, disease. Periodontal disease is a serious issue that requires periodontal treatment right away. At Pacific Modern Dentistry, we can determine the presence of periodontal disease, and what treatments are necessary, with a periodontal exam.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a progressive oral health condition. It begins as a result of a bacterial infection in your mouth. The bacteria irritate your gum tissue, which triggers an inflammatory response from your immune system. As a result, your gums become swollen. The tissue eventually begins to pull away from your teeth, leading to the formation of periodontal pockets. Bacteria and other debris fall into these pockets, which grow deeper and deeper, causing gum recession. Eventually, the bacteria reach your periodontal ligaments and your jawbone, where they attack these supporting structures and compromise the stability of your teeth. You may even be faced with tooth loss.
What is a Periodontal Exam?
A periodontal exam is an examination of your gum tissue. With this type of exam, we can determine the presence of periodontal disease, how severe it is, and what the best treatment is to restore your oral health. We use digital x-rays and a scaler during the exam.
During a periodontal exam, we assess the amount of buildup of plaque, tartar, bacteria, and other debris on the surfaces of your teeth. Your teeth are checked for mobility, and your jawbone is examined for bone loss. We also closely examine your gum tissue, assessing inflammation and recession.
An important part of your periodontal exam is the measurement and tracking of your periodontal pockets. Healthy gum tissue is sealed tightly around your teeth, providing a protective barrier. There may be some space between your gums and your teeth, but they are no deeper than 3 millimeters. Your gums also do not bleed. If you have pockets deeper than 4 millimeters and your gums, bleed when you brush and floss, this can indicate the presence of periodontal disease. The deeper your periodontal pockets, the more advanced periodontal disease is.
Measuring periodontal pockets involves taking measurements at 6 different points around your teeth. This information is recorded and kept in your file. By measuring periodontal pockets, we can determine how advanced periodontal disease is as well as what the best treatments will be. With the right treatments, we can stop the progression of periodontal disease and restore your oral health.
The Importance of Periodontal Exams
Periodontal exams are essential for helping you to maintain a healthy mouth. Periodontal disease does more than just affect your oral health. More advanced stages can also impact your overall health. As periodontal disease progresses, bacteria below your gum line can eventually get into your bloodstream. This can lead to issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Periodontal disease increases your risk for respiratory issues such as pneumonia and worsens existing issues such as asthma or COPD. Periodontal disease can also lead to complications during pregnancy. With regular periodontal exams, however, we can spot periodontal disease in its earliest stages, providing you with the treatment you need to stop its progression and restore your oral health.
Periodontal exams allow us to determine the presence of periodontal disease, how severe the condition is, and what treatment will help to restore your oral health. Call Pacific Modern Dentistry at (206)284-4505 today for more information and to schedule your appointment.