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Gum Disease - Exams and Tests

Your dentist or dental hygienist will examine your gums and teeth for gum disease during regular visits. Using a small mirror and a tool called a probe, your dentist will look for:

  • Bleeding gums. The more spots that bleed, the more likely it is that your gum disease is severe.
  • Hard mineral deposits (tartar) above and below the gum line.
  • Areas where your gums are pulling away from your teeth and pockets that have formed between your teeth and gums. Your dentist or dental hygienist will use the probe to measure the depth of the spaces between your teeth and gums to see how deep the pockets are.

The dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

4 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Do Now

Are your pearly whites starting to look not so pearly? Maybe it's time to treat your teeth with a little respect. Paul Vankevich, DMD, an assistant professor of general dentistry at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, speaks for dentists everywhere when he lists four things you can do right now for a mouth that looks and feels fabulous. Kick the habit. Need another person in your life to explain why you need to quit smoking? Talk to your dentist. The nicotine and tar in cigarettes...

Read the 4 Things Your Dentist Wants You to Do Now article > >

Early detection

Visiting your dentist or dental hygienist regularly is the best way to detect gum disease before it causes serious damage. Your dentist will determine how often you should be seen based on your risk for gum disease.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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