What a General Dentist Looks For When Examining Your Gums

General Dentist Garden Grove, CA

Gum disease is one of the most common reasons people seek general dentist services. Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gum tissues caused by the bacteria in tartar building up inside gum pockets. The ensuing battle between antibodies and bacterial infection leads to the chronic irritation and inflammation of gum tissues, known as gum disease.

If left untreated, gum disease can permanently damage the bone and tissue structures that keep teeth in place. As a result, teeth become loose, and some might even fall out.

How a general dentist examines your gums

The American Dental Association recommends seeing a general dentist at least twice a year for a routine checkup. One of the benefits of regular visits to a dentist is having issues like gum disease detected in the early stages.

Early stages of gum disease

The early stage of gum disease is a condition known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It is a reversible condition; however, if it is not treated promptly, it can lead to periodontitis. There are two types of gingivitis: acute and chronic.

Acute gingivitis occurs suddenly, lasts for about two weeks, and can result from stress or an injury. Acute gingivitis usually goes away on its own with an improved oral hygiene routine. However, chronic gingivitis develops over time and lasts longer than two weeks. This form of gum disease may be linked to poor oral hygiene or conditions such as diabetes or nutritional deficiencies (such as iron deficiency). Treatment for chronic gingivitis may include scaling and root planing (a procedure that cleans below the gum line) or antibiotics.

Advanced stages of gum disease

Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. It is a condition that affects the periodontium, comprised of the bone and gums that surround the patient's teeth. The bone and gums are connected by ligaments and fibers called cementum. If these ligaments and cementum become inflamed, infected, or damaged, the gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets between them. Bacteria can then get into these pockets and cause damage to the surrounding bone.

If a patient is in this advanced stage of gum disease, it is important to note that it is not reversible but is manageable with treatments like deep cleanings, bone grafts, and gum grafts.

The examination

When examining a patient's gums for gum disease, the dentist looks for symptoms like:

  • Puffy or swollen gums
  • Purplish, dusky red, or bright red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pus coming from where gum tissue and teeth meet
  • Loose teeth
  • New spaces forming between the patient's teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Changes to the patient's bite

During the examination, the general dentist talks to the patient about their medical history to pinpoint any risk factors contributing to gum issues, like diabetes. They will also closely examine the patient's gums, looking for signs of inflammation. Then, a small dental tool called a probe measures the depths of the patient's gum pockets.

Healthy gum pockets should be somewhere between one to three millimeters. Anything deeper than five millimeters is typically a sign of gum disease. Evaluating gum pockets with a probe is typically a painless experience for the patient. The probe works like a tiny ruler that is inserted into gum pockets.

Based on the dentist's initial findings, other tests like X-rays might be performed. X-rays are used to evaluate the bone structures that support teeth to determine how much the gum infection has damaged them.


Treatments that a general dentist might recommend to bring a patient's gum disease under control include:

  • Teeth cleaning
  • Deep cleaning/root scaling and planing
  • Gum grafts
  • Bone grafts
  • Quitting habits, like smoking, that promote gum disease

During the initial examination, the general dentist will determine what type of treatment or procedure will be most effective for the patient's condition. In some cases, an additional appointment will need to be scheduled. Other times they will perform the treatment and give the patient at-home recommendations during the same appointment.

Protect your gums

Gum disease can lead to teeth falling out of your mouth if you fail to get the treatments needed. It is important not to ignore the signs and symptoms you may be experiencing, as doing so may further lessen your chances of reversing gum disease and other oral health conditions. Give us a call or visit our Garden Grove clinic to learn more about how our dentist can diagnose and treat gum disease.

Request an appointment here: https://www.allstardental.net or call Allstar Dental at (714) 462-4437 for an appointment in our Garden Grove office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: General Dentist in Garden Grove, CA.

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