The last time you went to the dentist, you probably heard the hygienists calling out a series of numbers like 3-2-3 or 4-3-4 while someone else in the room recorded those numbers onto your digital oral health chart.
What were they doing?
In simple terms, they were detailing the health status of your gums.
What is Perio Probing?
Your dentist or dental hygienist uses a tool that has a long, very fine tip to measure the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. This device is called a periodontal probe, and it contains a series of small lines, measured in millimeters, which tell oral health professionals how far down it’s able to go before it encounters the gum line.
What Numbers Indicate Healthy Gums?
Healthy gums typically measure between one and three millimeters with little to no bleeding, meaning there isn’t a large gap between the top of the gums and the periodontium (the structure that holds the tooth in place).
Pocket depths between four and five millimeters could be a sign of gingivitis, which is easily reversible if patients adhere to regular brushing, flossing, and dental visits.
Pocket depths greater than five millimeters are often cause for concern, as they’re typically accompanied by bleeding, pus, or pain, which can be signs of infection. Infections at this point often impact the bones, as well as the gums, which can lead to tooth loss, among other negative situations.
Are There Negative Effects to “Big Numbers” During Perio Probing?
The larger the number, the deeper the pocket of space between your teeth and gums, which is a bad thing. As that area deepens, infection becomes more likely, and bacteria can more easily find its way into your bloodstream. This, in turn, can transition from poor oral health to a situation that affects your entire body.
Why Are Deep Pockets Bad?
A normal toothbrush can easily reach one to two millimeters below the surface of the gum line to remove food debris and bacteria. Once the pockets get deeper than that, leftover food can accumulate below the gum line, attracting bacteria that can eventually erode the gums and tooth enamel. This is why it’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings.
Have you checked on your oral health lately? If you haven’t had a regular checkup in a while, this is a great time to schedule your initial appointment with a dentist in Montreal!