The foundation to a healthy smile starts with the right oral hygiene habits at home. In addition to brushing and flossing, it is best to see your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. At your appointment, your teeth will be cleaned while a comprehensive examination is performed to monitor for complications, like tooth decay. During your examination, your dentist will probe your gums, but why? Although the poking may seem unnecessary, it serves a valuable purpose. It provides with key information about your gum health for quick detection of periodontal disease.
Why Is My Dentist Poking My Gums?
During your dental exam, your dentist will use a special dental tool to poke your gums. Although it may seem like nothing more than tapping, your dentist is actually checking the depth of the pockets in your gum tissue. This is a proactive means to help evaluate your risk for gum disease, allowing the infection to be detected early for quick treatment.
Gum disease is a preventable infection that develops in the gum tissue from bacteria that is found in plaque and tartar accumulations. The buildup is often the result of poor oral hygiene habits. While brushing and flossing can prevent it, it is estimated that over half of adults have a form of the infection.
Not only will gum disease wreak havoc on your dental health, eventually leading to tooth loss, but it can also negatively impact your general health as well. If the bacteria responsible for the infection enters the bloodstream, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and respiratory infections.
The simple probing of your gum tissue during your exam allows your dentist to stop the complications of gum disease from developing by quickly detecting the infection.
How Does Probing Work?
When the dentist uses the dental probe on your gum tissue, it acts as a ruler to measure the depth of the tooth’s pockets. They are measured out in millimeters. Your dentist will use those numbers to evaluate your gum’s health. On average, six measurements are taken per tooth: three along the outside and three along the inside.
If the measurements are over 3 millimeters or bleeding occurs, it is a sign that you may have gum disease. As a result, your dentist will likely recommend a special cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing. This will clean the accumulations to rid harmful bacteria from the gum line. Depending on the depth of the pockets, you may need additional treatments as well, like antibiotics therapy.
Get a Healthy Smile Today
At your next dental appointment, do not be surprised when your dentist begins to poke your gums. It is a simple, yet effective means to monitor your gum health.
About Bethel Dental
Bethel Dental provides personalized services to promote your oral health. With a focus on prevention, we provide cleanings and checkups to keep your teeth and gums healthy. If it has been a while since your last preventive appointment, contact our office today to schedule a cleaning and checkup.