Why do you poke my gums at my checkup?

Many new patients tell Dr Garrett they have never had a hygienist poke their gums with that measuring thing. What we are doing is measuring your gum height above the bone level to check for infections in your gums. This is called periodontal probing. A healthy mouth will have gum heights of 1-3mm. If you have multiple areas in your mouth with 4mm or greater, bleeding gums, and bone loss around your teeth, this is when periodontal disease starts.

At Germantown Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, our hygienists will do a full periodontal probing of your gums once a year. We want to check to see if you have periodontal disease so we can start the treatment if necessary. Periodontal disease is caused by plaque and tartar building up above and under the gum line. When this occurs, bacteria grows rapidly and the body’s response fighting off the bacteria leads to inflammation in the gums and eventually bone loss. This infection can have detrimental effects to not only the mouth but the rest of your body.

We know how important healthy gums are to your overall body health. Just recently, the Washington Post had an article about periodontal disease in women and how it increases the risk for cancer. Periodontal disease does not cause cancer, but there is a link between the two. Studies have also shown a link between gum disease and heart disease due to chronic inflammation. Diabetes is another chronic disease that has a link to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is preventable. What we recommend is brushing twice daily, getting between your teeth daily with floss, and visiting us for your regularly scheduled checkups. When you come for your regular visit, ask one of our hygienists for direction on the proper way to brush and floss. Also, if you smoke or chew tobacco, stop! Tobacco use increases the risk of periodontal disease.

If we find that you have periodontal disease, our hygienist will discuss a treatment called scaling and root planing, deep cleaning. This will take place in our office with special equipment and an antibacterial rinse.

Visit our website today to schedule your next checkup so we can help prevent periodontal disease.