PERIODONTAL PROBING – Information to help you maintain a healthy smile
One of the most frequent questions we get asked from adult patients is “Why do you measure my gums?” Many patients believe we are checking the gum recession (attachment loss exposing the root’s surface). This is only one of the things that we are noting.
With a dental instrument called a periodontal probe, we go between the gum tissue to the bottom of the pocket (or sulcus) where ligaments attach to the tooth. At Chesney Dentistry we record these numbers annually. This measurement should be between 1-3 mm. This is considered healthy because you are able to keep it clean and maintain health. Deeper measurements or “pockets” can indicate swelling and/or bone loss.
In these deeper pocket areas the bacteria become more virulent and these bacteria can live without oxygen.These bacteria can destroy bone, thereby making the pocket even deeper and harder to clean. The measurements are recorded in the patient’s chart for comparison with future dental visits.
Plaque (soft deposits) and calculus (tartar or hard deposits) cause inflammation of the gum tissue and bleeding. And if not treated will also lead to bone loss, gum attachment loss and ultimately even tooth loss. Once the bone supporting the teeth deteriorates, it does not regenerate or grow back, so it is very important to keep your gums healthy.
Bacteria in the mouth has been linked to many health conditions. Gum health should be a top priority and while brushing and flossing helps maintain healthy teeth and gums it is very important to visit your family dentist and dental Hygienist regularly. Healthy gums are a good indicator of overall health. If our dental hygienist measures pockets greater than 3mm this is important information for our patients to know so they can improve their dental hygiene habits and specifically floss in those areas better. Seeing your dentist regularly is important preventative “mouth maintenance”.
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Contributing authors: Melinda Rudy, RDH and Robin Crabtree, RDH