Signs of a Healthy Mouth

Signs of a healthy mouth

Are you aware of the difference between an unhealthy and healthy mouth? Grande Prairie, AB residents look to their dentists to stay updated on all the innovations of modern dentistry and to teach them how to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Today, individuals know it’s possible to keep their teeth for a lifetime, so they usually like to know the first signs of problems. Let’s take a look at the signs of a healthy mouth and what you can do to improve oral health.

What Does a Healthy Mouth Look Like?

First, you’ll want to know what things to look for in a healthy mouth. It’s not a secret that having a healthy mouth often means you also have a healthy body and that a lot of health problems might first show up during your dental visit. Here are some key indicators of a healthy mouth your dental hygienist will look for during an oral health exam.

1. Healthy Teeth

Healthy teeth are just one of the signs of good oral health. It’s obvious that to be healthy, teeth should have no cavities, but when the dentist or hygienist is checking your teeth, they search for a number of other signs of health as well. To determine if your teeth are healthy, they check for things like:

  • Staining

  • Erosion

  • Cracks

  • Chips

  • Sensitivity

  • Disease

  • Looseness

  • Crookedness

  • Failing dental work

If your teeth have had work performed on them before like crowns, root canals or fillings, your dental hygienist or dentist will examine them to make sure these restorations are withstanding the wear and tear that the mechanical and chemical forces of your jaws and mouth can place on them. When restorations are intact, they have good seal/fit against your tooth to keep bacteria from getting in under the restoration and cause tooth decay. Your hygienist or dentist will look for signs of chips, cracks, leakage, tooth decay and movement.

Healthy teeth also don’t get longer as you get older. The gums can start to recede as you age, and it can make the crown portion of your teeth appear to look longer. If you’re experiencing excessive receding, contact our office right away.

2. Healthy Gums

importance of healthy gums

Your gums should be firm and pink to the touch, not white or red and not tender or swollen. They should be firmly seated and shouldn’t feel loose or wiggly. Your gums should be flush with your teeth with no pockets, flaps or places where they look to be receding from your tooth.

You can help keep your gums healthy and avoid pockets and places where bacteria can collect and cause decay, damage and bad breath. Your dental hygienist will take a look at your X-rays and probe your gums, checking for gum pockets. Healthy gums are a top indicator of a healthy body.

3. Pleasant or Neutral Breath

With a healthy mouth, you have either neutral or pleasant breath. You can easily test this at home. Scrape your tongue with your fingernail or floss between a couple of teeth and take a sniff. This will give you an idea of what your breath might smell like after the mouthwash and toothpaste has worn off for the day.

The presence of food particles and bacteria is directly related to chronic bad breath. Bad breath could also be a sign of other health problems such as:

  • Sinus issues

  • Diabetes

  • Dental infections

  • Poor dental habits

  • Metabolic diseases

  • Cancer

  • GERD

  • Dry mouth

Certain medicines that dry the mouth out could also cause unpleasant breath. The dentist or hygienist can talk with you about your option of relieving dry mouth symptoms. Proper brushing and flossing habits along with regular dental visits are the best way to keep your breath pleasant.

4. Pink, Clean Tongue

You might not realize this, but your dentist or dental hygienist could also look at your tongue for signs of health. Your tongue is healthy if it’s pink and covered with small nodules, referred to as papillae, that help you with taste. Your tongue’s overall surface should be smooth, flat and clean looking.

The surface papillae can harbour bacteria that, if allowed to accumulate, could grow to unhealthy levels. You’ll want to use a tongue scraper to keep your tongue clean as part of your daily oral hygiene.

A painful or discoloured tongue could indicate smoking, trauma or canker sores, but it could also be signs of more serious disorders like:

  • Autoimmune disease

  • Nutritional deficiency

  • Kawasaki syndrome

  • Allergic reaction

  • Diabetes

  • Cancer

You also shouldn’t ignore white lines, patchy areas or coatings. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist for a check-up.

5. Proper Tooth Spacing and Jaw Alignment

In addition to looking at your teeth, your dentist also observes how they fit together in your jaw and mouth as a whole. When your teeth are aligned and straight, they’re a lot easier to brush and floss. This means fewer places for gum disease or cavities to develop and better breath with proper home care.

Malocclusion or crowding, can impact normal digestion and chewing and might be related to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ), gum disease or bruxism (grinding or clenching). Your dentist could recommend you consult with a Board-Certified Orthodontist.

6. Proper Bite

In a healthy mouth, ideally, your lower and upper teeth will fit together evenly so the forces of chewing are distributed equally and shared among all your teeth throughout your jaw.

Teeth rely on each other for support. Open spaces, uneven bites or teeth that are crowded, crooked, missing or displaced could hinder the appearance, performance and health of your teeth, impacting speaking, breathing, oral hygiene and digestion. Crowded or misaligned teeth could make teeth harder to clean and keep healthy. They could also cause jaw issues like grinding, clenching, TMJ disorder and neck/head/sinus/earaches.

7. Healthy Oral Tissues

An oral health exam will cover a lot more than just your teeth. A lot of whole-body health problems have symptoms that could manifest in your mouth, such as:

  • Cardiovascular diseases

  • Diabetes

  • Thyroid problems

Your dental hygienist or dentist will examine your whole mouth, including your lips, tongue and cheeks. Healthy oral tissues are often firm, pink and moist. Problems might appear in the form of infections like thrush, dry mouth, swelling, painful sores or tenderness. Your hygienist can spot warning signs that could be pointing to oral cancer and other severe problems.

How to Improve Your Oral Health

How to improve your oral health

The way you care for your gums and teeth tends to reflect back on how you feel overall. There’s an association between your dental health and your overall health, and not taking good care of your dental health could increase your risk for conditions like:

  • Endocarditis: This is an infection of your heart chambers or valve’s inner lining, usually occurring when bacteria or other types of germs from one area of your body, like your mouth, spread through your bloodstream, attaching to specific areas of your heart.

  • Cardiovascular disease: While the connection isn’t completely understood, clogged arteries, heart disease and stroke could be associated with the infections and inflammation oral bacteria can cause.

  • Pneumonia: Specific bacteria in your mouth could end up in your lungs, leading to respiratory diseases like pneumonia.

Fortunately, improving your oral hygiene routine doesn’t necessarily mean huge changes. But, it does take a little more than simply brushing your teeth. A few simple tweaks to your day-to-day mouth care could have a lasting effect on your body.

Here are some things you can do.

1. Remember to Floss

Flossing once a day is essential for removing food particles, plaque and bacteria from between your teeth — where your toothbrush can’t reach. While flossing might not necessarily be the most exciting activity, it’s the only way you can remove those elements before they harden into calculus or tartar that can only be removed by your dentist or dental hygienist. If you have a hard time remembering to floss each day, try doing it while you’re doing something else, like watching TV, for instance. If you’re on the fence about flossing or don’t have the dexterity for traditional floss, we also recommend using a water pik to clean the debris from between your teeth! These are even acceptable if you have dental implants.

2. Invest in a Better Toothbrush

You don’t require a fancy electric toothbrush or anything. If you’re been brushing your teeth with a toothbrush with hard bristles, you could be hurting your oral health without knowing it. The harder the bristles on the toothbrush are, the easier it is for you to brush too hard, which could cause receding gums and enamel loss. Switch to a toothbrush with soft bristles.

3. Drink More Tap Water

Tap water often contains fluoride and is beneficial to your teeth. Fluoride can make teeth more decay-resistant, resulting in a positive impact on oral health.

While there are plenty of techniques available these days for curbing tooth decay, toothpaste with fluoride along with routine dental visits that include fluoridation can help. Take advantage of water with fluoride in it when you’re home, too, whether it’s tap water or a certain brand of bottled water.

4. Use an Antibacterial Mouthwash

If you feel like you could have bacterial buildup that could be causing bad breath, use a mouth rinse along with your routine oral hygiene to further rid your teeth of these germs. Antibacterial mouthwashes get into crevices and clean the germs from soft tissue you might not always be able to brush away. This allows you to avoid bacteria from spreading to your gum line and teeth where it can lead to gingivitis and cavities and ruin your breath.

Importance of Visiting a Dentist

Importance of Visiting a dentist

Proper dental health contributes positively to your mental, physical and social well-being by allowing you to eat, speak and socialize unhindered by discomfort, pain or embarrassment.

Eating a healthy diet, brushing and flossing and visiting your dentist routinely are all part of ongoing dental care for healthy gums and teeth. How often you visit your dentist for a checkup will depend on your particular oral health needs. You want to catch little problems early. For many individuals, this would mean a dental visit every six months. Your dentist or dental hygienist might recommend you visit more or less often depending on:

  • Your oral hygiene practices

  • The health of your gums and teeth

  • How fast tartar builds up on your teeth

  • Issues you have that require checking

Routine dental visits are important for a healthy mouth. Having your teeth checked for tooth decay is only one part of a comprehensive dental exam. During your dental appointment, the dentist or dental hygienist will most likely evaluate the health of your gums, examine your mouth for any signs of oral cancer, vitamin deficiency or diabetes and perform a neck and head exam to look for things out of the ordinary. They may even examine your face, saliva, bite and movement of your lower jaw joints. They will clean your teeth and inform you of how important good oral hygiene maintenance is at home between visits.

Your dental team will pay close attention to tartar and plaque because they can build up quickly if you don’t practice good oral hygiene between dental visits. Beverages, food and tobacco could stain your teeth, too. If you don’t have it removed, soft plaque could irritate your gum tissue and harden on your teeth. Plaque can cause gum disease if not treated.

The Neck and Head Exam

Your dentist or dental hygienist will begin by:

  • Examining your neck and face

  • Checking your lower jaw joints (TMJs)

  • Checking your lymph nodes

While examining your neck and head, your dentist can look for signs of swelling, ulcerations, discolourations or lumps that might be indicative of abnormal conditions related to oral health or other systemic problems. An issue found in the oral cavity might mean there is disease elsewhere in your body.

The Clinical Dental Examination

The dentist or hygienist will then assess the state of your gums and teeth by:

  • Examining your gums

  • Checking for gum disease

  • Examining your tongue

  • Checking for loose or broken teeth

  • Checking your bite

  • Looking at your inner mouth tissues

  • Checking the contact between your teeth

  • Looking for tooth decay and damaged fillings

  • Evaluating your dental appliances, if you have any

  • Checking for changes in your gums that cover your teeth

Taking X-Rays and the Dental Cleaning

During the last part of your dental appointment, the hygienist will clean your mouth using these methods:

  • Removing any tartar and plaque

  • Checking the cleanliness of your gums and teeth

  • Polishing and flossing your teeth

  • Going over recommended brushing and flossing methods

After your exam and cleaning, the hygienist will inform you about the health of your gums, teeth and mouth, then provide you with any additional recommendations, if needed. It’s essential you see your dentist as often as they advise — again, it’s usually every six months for a routine dental exam and cleaning.

Remember, following good day-to-day oral hygiene habits and seeing your dentist routinely will be more likely to lead to healthy gums and teeth. It’s always important to ask your dentist about the possible consequences of not following the recommended instructions of good dental care.

Contact Gateway Dentistry Group Today to Learn More and Schedule Your Appointment

importance of going to the dentist

Here at our Grande Prairie office, we are a comprehensive dental practice providing many services, from dental emergencies to tooth fillings to Invisalign braces. We’re also a non-hospital surgical facility accredited by the Alberta Dental Association and College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta with a focus on pediatric general anesthesia and surgery.

Taking proper care of your teeth, gums and mouth can support your oral health and general wellbeing as you age. It’s important to not only see your dentist if you have pain in your tooth, gums or anywhere in your oral cavity, but routinely as well. That way, your dental team can provide a comprehensive exam and cleaning. Call us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.