Most people go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning; however, having your gum tissues checked out is also very important. If your gums have become inflamed or are pulling away from your teeth, you may have developed gingivitis. Gingivitis can end up leading to severe periodontal disease, which has been linked to other health problems, like heart disease. Here are some ways to keep your gums as healthy as your teeth.
Have Gum Probing Done at Your Appointments
Some dentists may only clean your teeth, but if you are at risk for gum disease, it's in your best interest to ask for gum probing. During this exam, your dentist will use a probe—a tiny ruler-like instrument—to measure the pockets around your teeth. If the pockets are about 3 millimeters or less, you are in good shape.
If you have pockets that are about 4 mm or more, then you may be a good candidate for scaling and root planing (deep gum cleaning). If these pockets get deeper and aren't taken care of, then you increase your risk of gum disease, which can cause tooth and bone loss.'
Obviously you need to both brush your teeth and floss them; however, if you could only choose one habit, it should be flossing. That's how important flossing is for your oral health! Unlike brushing, flossing removes plaque in hard-to-reach areas and microbes underneath gum tissues.
Use Other Products in Conjunction With Flossing
Along with flossing, you may want to invest in an at-home oral irrigator. These tools send streams of water over your teeth and gums to loosen debris and plaque, which makes flossing easier. You should also invest in mouthwash. Once you are done flossing, you may have loosened up debris but not removed it. If you gurgle mouthwash, you'll be able to clean hard-to-reach surfaces and spit out any debris that didn't adhere to the floss.
Get a Referral to a Periodontist
If your gums are in pretty bad shape even after adjusting your habits, seek out a periodontist. These specialists focus on the diseases that destroy gum tissues. Not only do they do scaling and root planing, but they can do pocket reduction and gum grafting.
After scaling and root planing, the gum tissue may still not fit snugly around your teeth, so the periodontist would use a pocket reduction procedure to fold tissues closer to the tooth. If your gum tissue is unhealthy and needs to be excised, a graft can help you regenerate new healthy tissue.
Talk with your dentist about more ways to keep your gums as healthy.