Whether you are a new patient at Eatonville Dental or you are in for your routine dental cleaning, you may hear your dentist or dental hygienist say, “today we will be measuring your gums.” This means that he or she is measuring the depth of the space between your tooth and gum.
In dental terms, the space is known as the sulcus. This is where the gum attaches to the tooth. When the gums are healthy, the sulcus is 1, 2 or 3mm deep. If the sulcus is deeper then 3mm, is it called a periodontal pocket, meaning that there is more increased space for bacterial to settle. To measure these spaces, your dentist or dental hygienist will use a periodontal probe, a tiny millimetre ruler with a blunt tip. The millimetre measurements, bleeding sites, receding gums and mobility of the teeth are all recorded. Bleeding sites are recorded as bleeding after probing is an indication of inflammation and receding gums measures the distance between the crown of the tooth and the edge of the gum. Measurements are recorded in your chart and then compared yearly to monitor your periodontal health.
These measurements together with x-rays are used to diagnose periodontal diseases, also known as “gum disease”. Gum disease doesn’t hurt, and unless you see a dentist for a complete exam, you will not know if you have it. Some common signs of gum disease that people might notice are bleeding gums, bad breath, mobile teeth, and long looking teeth. At Eatonville Dental, our patients are always educated on the results of their periodontal exams and periodontal maintenance is always a priority.