What are appropriate measures to achieve the goal?
I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a dentist for the last 27 years, and boy I have learned a lot and enjoyed the journey along the way.
One question always comes to mind though, how does the patient know they are healthy? Dentally FIT?
Most of the time dental DIS-EASE doesn’t hurt and it can go overlooked for a while before it bothers you. A lot of the time the damage is occurring with out any feeling.
Some of the things I have heard in my career from patients:
My teeth aren’t dirty, I clean them myself and I do a good job.
There’s been no changes, I don’t see anything wrong with my teeth.
I didn’t notice any bleeding, only when I brush.
Our mouths are constantly changing, our teeth constantly shifting and the environment of bacteria, good and bad change. Bacteria can cause DIS-EASE very quickly and are very episodic and site specific. What does that mean?
You can be perfectly FIT at your last dental visit and then next visit things change. Usually this doesn’t happen if you adhere to the guidelines of time between dental visits that your Dentist recommends. For some people that is every 3 months, others every 6 months- that interval is determined by what your mouth has going on.
How does the dentist measure and predict the goal of a FIT mouth?
Color and consistency of your gum tissue
Presence or absence of any exudate (pus)
Pocket depth measurements
Absence or presence of malodor (a bad odor or bad breath)
As I explain to my patients the healthy pocket depth, the measurement from the top of the gum of the individual tooth to where the bone is, should be no more than 2mm. When you have measurements higher than that: your gums are unfit. Think of it as an open envelope allowing all those bacteria to get to the bottom of that pocket where they can eat away that important bone. The most important thing here is- can you clean to the bottom of that pocket? Anything more than 2 mm you cannot, it is proven the pocket continues to grow and worsen the DIS-EASE.
Think of your mouth as a garden. When the garden is not weeded the weeds continue to grow and overgrow the whole garden. The same can be true with the mouth. The bacteria adhere to the teeth and form hard deposits that continue to grow if not taken off professionally by your dentist. These deposits also can grow into the depth of those pockets I was talking about, causing the teeth to get loose and actually fall out.
So, the measurements that indicate whether your mouth is FIT are: color of the gums, absence of malodor, absence of pocketing, and absence of bleeding. There is another requirement of a Fit mouth and that is that the teeth come together appropriately. If your bite is not correct you are doomed to excessive wear, possible teeth cracking and teeth loss. If you couple a misaligned bite with loss of periodontal bone you will lose your teeth.
Prevention is the key. Trust your Dentist and their diagnostic evidence. Our practice works on an evidence based system and with our instruments, cameras, laser detection, and digital radiographs. We would love to help you get and stay Dentally FIT!