How does a periodontal examination differ from an ordinary dental examination? The word “Periodontal” refers to the structures around and supporting the teeth. Therefore a Periodontal Exam is an examination of your gum tissue and the ligaments and bone supporting your teeth. Every hygienist is focused on all these things when they examine your teeth to determine the health of your “Periodontium”
At Serene Dental Hygiene, This is our main focus. We believe that your periodontal health is the foundation for your overall dental health. If you have a lot of bone loss, then you could be in danger of losing your teeth. Beginning bone loss loss can be caught early with the use of dental x rays and probing techniques. A deeper cleaning might be recommended to treat this condition and stop its progression.
The next part of your periodontal exam is the overall evaluation of the gum tissue surrounding your teeth. We will take measurements for recession of your gums and we will note areas of bleeding and inflammation. Bleeding and inflammation go hand in hand. Basically when your gums are “inflamed”, it means they are filled with blood. Therefore when they are stimulated , they bleed. You may notice they bleed when you brush or floss or maybe they only bleed when you have them probed and cleaned by your dental hygienist. Either is a sign that they aren’t as healthy as they should be. Bleeding is a sign that infection may be beginning and that treatment may be needed.
The last part of your periodontal evaluation is when we evaluate the ligaments which support your teeth and attach your teeth to the bone. We do this by probing around every single tooth and recording 6 different spots of every tooth. This exam is saved and will be compared at every dental cleaning visit to evaluate for any changes, good or bad. These measurements are recorded in millimeters. We will always explain this in more depth at your visit because we feel it is very important you understand what this means and if you understand it, you’ll be more inclined to brush and floss correctly and stay healthy. When you hear us use the term “pocket”, this is what we are referring to. Basically, you have a pocket around every single tooth. A normal, healthy pocket is between 1-3 millimeters deep. Picture that your gums fit around your tooth like a turtleneck fits around your neck. There is a space between the tooth and the gum tissue which you need to angle your brush into when you brush and you need to take the floss into this space to clean it and stimulate it to keep it healthy. When plaque accumulates into this space, it begins the infection process. And the ligaments become inflamed as well and will eventually release from the tooth and so the deeper ligaments are then holding the tooth to the bone. So, as plaque (bacteria) continues to migrate deeper and deeper, you lose more ligament attachments and the ‘pocket’ gets deeper and deeper. This gives the plaque direct access to the bone and so the bacteria begins to attack the bone and eat it away. Thus, bone loss which can lead to loose teeth and more infection.
These things are very important to be evaluated at each visit and recorded so we can monitor changes between each visit. When pockets are treated early, it often involves little to no pain and when pockets reach a certain depth, we can provide anesthetic to make your cleaning comfortable.
So, when your come to Serene, you’ll want to hear all 1, 2’s and 3’s when we do your periodontal exam, but if not, please know we can and WILL help you to get there.