“Probing” your gum is the use of a special dental “probe” to measure the depth of gum pockets. The probe acts like a ruler, and has markings along its side measured out in millimeters. To measure the depth of your tooth's pocket, we gently place the probe into this pocket and make note of the depth. This depth represent separation between the gum and teeth. Those numbers you hear are the millimeter depths of your pocket and are indications of gum disease. Six measurements are taken per tooth, three along the outside, and three along the inside of each tooth.
A depth of three millimeters or under without any bleeding is generally accepted as healthy. Depths of 4 or more indicate deep gum disease. When pocket depths are more than 5 mm or more, the gum disease has extended to the bones around the teeth, indicating a deeper gum disease and we may suggest more thorough cleanings, including deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planning. Deeper pocket depth may require gum surgery after the deep cleaning.
So, as you can see, maintaining healthy pocket health is critical, and proper brushing and flossing can help clear away plaque and prevent the tartar buildup that cause gum disease. Our dental team would ensure you are avoiding gum disease by keeping your regular appointments every six months. If you have been diagnosed with a deep gum disease, also called periodontist, we recommended for more frequent visits, called periodontal maintenance visits. In contrast to preventive dental care, periodontal maintenance is therapeutic/treatment dental care to treat deep gum disease. They are done every 3 months. They represent mini deep cleanings and involve remeasuring pocket depths. With a good routine and frequent visits, the only numbers you'll be hearing moving forward should be 1, 2 and 3! Keep up the good work!