Why does the dentist or dental hygienist poke my gums? Why does it bleed? What do those numbers mean? Why should I care and can you just clean my teeth?
What the dentist and the hygienist is looking for is the pocket depth and any bleeding or pus in the gums. The reason the gums may bleed is due to inflammation in the gums. Inflammation is the bodies way of attacking an infection, and in attacking the infection the body as is damaging the bone that holds the teeth in the bone. Bleeding is associated with inflammation or infection and the numbers that the hygienist records are the depth of the pocket. Pus is where an active infection in the gums is present in the gums. This can occur when bacteria harden on the tooth and causes the infection in the gums that support your teeth.
How often should my gums be measured? For a patient that have healthy gums, we record the measurements once a year. For patients that have gum disease, pocket measurements will be done at every periodontal maintenance visit, which is 3-4 times a year.
What do those numbers mean? We are measuring the depth of the pockets in millimeters. The larger the number means the deeper we can go in the gums around the teeth. Healthy pocket depths are 3mm and less. This is the depth that you as the patient can keep clean at home with a toothbrush and floss. Once the pocket depths are 4mm or greater, you will not be able to keep the bottom of the pocket clean and that is where the bacteria start to buildup causing the start of gum disease.
For more information please contact Dr. Ron Murphy at 630-879-7642 to schedule an appointment.