Oral Health: The Difference a Millimeter Makes

Oral Health: The Difference a Millimeter Makes

One of the most important messages I focus on to help my clients achieve and maintain good oral health is how they can control oral bacteria on their own. As my tagline says, my mission is to

“Empower Tooth Owners….To STAY That Way!”

As you look at your gums in the mirror, see where they end? Those edges are not attached to your teeth; they just lean up against them. Somewhere further up (for upper teeth) and down (lower teeth) the tooth is where they actually attach. It’s as if each tooth has its own “turtleneck” around it. This is the gingiva. When it is swollen, you have gingivitis.

In health, the gingiva is flat, pink, and firm. In gingivitis, it is red, swollen, and bleeds. This is good for you to know as all you need to do to monitor your own results is look in the mirror!

When I do a Periodontal Exam for you, you hear me call out numbers: 3-2-3, 4-2-3, 2-2-2, etc. These numbers are measurements in millimeters. Three millimeters (3mm) or less are the healthy numbers. However, 3mm or less “with bleeding” still means gingivitis is present.

We refer to these measurements as “pockets.” Depths of 4mm and sometimes 5mm are warning-sign numbers. The gums are saying “Warning! Gingivitis is taking hold! Take action now!”

Those few millimeters of tooth that have gums leaning on them (gingiva) are really important to clean. That’s how you win the game of gum health.

Brushing for healthy gums:

  • Hold brush at a 45 degree angle at the gumline
  • Brush in small circular motions
  • The bristiles are sweeping under the gum as it leans against the tooth = gingivitis defense!

So, when it comes to Gum Disease, the game is won or lost in millimeters of space. Most of the work I do takes place under the gums, in these millimeters of space. That is my greatest service to you.