It’s no secret that a healthy mouth is often a sign of a healthy body, and that many health issues may first show up at a dental checkup. The following indicate a healthy mouth and your dentist will look for these during your oral health exam:
Your dentist is trained to examine the entire mouth, including the tongue, lips, and cheeks. A healthy tongue is pink and covered with tiny nodules we call papillae that help you perceive taste. The overall surface should be flat, smooth and clean looking. The surface papillae can and do harbor bacteria that, if left to accumulate, can grow to unhealthy levels. Keep your tongue clean with a tongue scraper as part of your regular oral hygiene. Healthy oral tissues are often pink, firm, and moist. Issues may appear in the form of dry mouth, infections such as thrush, painful sores, swelling, or tenderness. An oral health exam covers much more than just teeth! Many whole-body health issues have symptoms that may manifest in the mouth, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and thyroid issues.
Healthy gums are pale pink and firm. They are not white, red and puffy nor do they bleed when you brush or floss. Healthy gums also are not tender or sore and do not have pus filled pimples on them which may be signs of infection. Take a good close look at your gums. Teeth should be seated firmly and should not feel wiggly or loose. There is also a triangular portion of gum tissue that should extend between adjacent teeth that ends in a point and has a free space (depth) of about 2-3 mm where your floss would slide for cleaning. As the gums recede due to unhealthy conditions, this triangular shape becomes more blunt and the space becomes deep, forming a pocket into which more bacteria, plaque, and tartar can accumulate. Flossing daily helps keep gums healthy and prevents pockets and places for bacteria to collect and cause damage, decay, and bad breath. Your dentist will review your x-rays and probe your gums to check for pockets in the gums. Healthy gums are a leading indicator of a healthy body.
Obviously, healthy teeth should be cavity free. However, when your dentist or hygienist checks your teeth, they are looking for many others signs of health, as well. They check for any erosion, staining, chips or cracks, disease, failing dental work, looseness, missing teeth, crookedness, sensitivity, etc. At each exam, your dentist will check your teeth for strength and condition, including teeth that have restorations such as fillings or teeth with crowns. Dental x-rays and a thorough exam may help detect issues before they become painful and often more difficult to treat. If your doctor detects a potential issue, they will show you and explain what they see. Additionally, they will recommend treatment options to help keep your teeth as strong and healthy as possible.
A healthy mouth means naturally pleasant or neutral breath. Most often, bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria and their odors and sulfur smelling gases. It is also one of the first signs of gingivitis that can lead to gum disease, worsening mouth odor, the loss of teeth, and other complications for the body. Smoking, dieting, dehydration, illness, disease, unclean dentures and appliances, tonsil stones, nutritional deficiencies, and food all can cause bad breath. The presence of bacteria and food particles is directly related to persistent bad breath. Bad breath can also be an indicator of other health issues such as diabetes or even sinus issues. Certain medications that cause dry mouth can also cause unpleasant breath. Your dentist can discuss options to help relieve dry mouth symptoms. The best possible way to keep your breath pleasant is with good brushing and flossing habits and regular dental checkups.
Ideally, in a healthy mouth, your upper and lower teeth fit together in an even manner so that the forces of chewing are equally distributed and shared amongst all teeth throughout the jaw. Teeth that are straight and aligned properly are much easier to brush and floss, meaning better breath and fewer places for cavities or gum disease to develop with proper home care. Crowding, also known as a “malocclusion,” can impact chewing and normal digestion, and may be related to bruxism (clenching or grinding), gum disease, jaw disorders such as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), migraines or other neurological symptoms, and even the overall shape of your face.
Yes, we may temporarily cause it trauma through injury or hot foods or have the periodic canker sore show up, but overall, a healthy mouth is pain free. There are products and treatments to help with minor sensitivities and the source of dry mouth situations can be investigated. However, you should be aware to not ignore any changes, pain, or afflictions in the mouth as this can be a sign of breakdown or disease. The rule of thumb is to have any pain that lasts more than 7-10 days examined.
Just because you may brush and floss everyday, does not mean that your mouth is healthy. The phrase, “Your mouth is the window to your overall health” is a reminder that caring for your oral health is an investment in your overall health. Oral health has a direct impact on self-confidence, social and professional relationships, and is truly the mirror of the body. Give us a call to schedule an appointment or simply to learn more about how healthy mouth and teeth can be the key to your overall health.
We are here to help with all your dental needs. No matter what, we are here to make sure you have the best information and options available to take action and feel comfortable and confident in your smile.
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About Tri-State Family Dentistry
Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.
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