Your periodontist and hygienist collect several values that give a good indication of your periodontal health and wellness at every appointment.
To collect these values, a periodontal probe is used. A probe is a very thin, small ruler. The probe is gently inserted in the small space that exists between your tooth and your gum. Some of the values that we are able to collect from this measurement are described below:
1. Bleeding on Probing – What percentage of sites bleed after gentle probing? Bleeding indicates inflammation of the gums due to a bacterial infection.
2. Probing Depth – How deep is the pocket between the tooth and gum? A healthy periodontal pocket is between 3 and 4mm. A periodontal pocket deeper than 5mm requires deep cleaning.
3. Gingival Thickness – How thick or thin is the gum tissue surrounding the tooth root? Just like Goldilocks, your periodontist and hygienist are measuring that your gums are not to thick and not to thin, but juuuust right.
4. Mobility – How loose are teeth? The periodontal ligament around each tooth allows for some movement and mobility (think of the need for a skyscraper to have some room for movement in the wind), but the tooth should be snug in the bone and soft tissue.
5. Furcation Involvement – Has bone resorbed away from the tooth so much that the probe can fit between the roots of the teeth?
6. Plaque Score – How much visible plaque is on the tooth surface?
Like a report card, your periodontist and hygienist review these values at every appointment and look for areas of improvement as well as areas that require some more attention and focus.