The early stages of gum disease can be detected with appropriate testing. Although the appearance of a receding gum is cause for concern, a physical measurement is needed to determine the severity of periodontal disease. Your dentist can use a periodontal probe to precisely measure to what extent you might have lost gum tissue.
The prospect of tooth loss is a common fear, occasionally serving as the central theme of nocturnal dreams. In real life, however, it is often gum disease that leads to the loss of teeth. To minimize the possibility of tooth loss, you need to understand the nature of gum disease and the importance of periodontal measurements.
Despite regular brushing, plaque in the mouth can develop into a hard substance known as tartar. Tartar is also referred to as calculus. Tartar can exist underneath the gum line, providing a hiding place for bacteria. Tartar maintains such a tight bond on your teeth that it can only be removed with a professional cleaning.
If left intact, the bacteria in tartar can lead to gum inflammation. The inflamed portion of the gum may recede from your teeth, deepening the pocket of space between the teeth and gum. If left untreated, pockets usually grow deeper and catch even more bacteria. If the situation continues to worsen, a deep periodontal pocket can result in tooth loss.
Periodontal pocket depths
Even if you have little current concern about gum disease, knowing the status of the pockets around your teeth is reassuring. As part of a routine cleaning, your dentist can use a probe to measure the depth of your periodontal pockets. In the absence of any gum inflammation, there are fairly simple criteria used to determine whether your periodontal pocket depths are normal.
Periodontal probe use
The markings on a periodontal probe are measured in millimeters. Periodontal pockets are measured for their vertical depth, not for their horizontal width. The measuring probe is placed along the length of the tooth. The surface layer of the gum is not directly attached to teeth, but the measurement is taken from the gum surface to the depth of the pocket.
Periodontal pocket measurements
Periodontal pocket depths in a healthy mouth should be no more than about three millimeters. Periodontal pocket depths of more than four millimeters may be indicative of gum disease. In its early stages, mild gum disease can be treated with regular dental visits and certain prescribed home treatments.
For most patients, gum disease is largely avoidable. Even with lifestyle choices conducive to good oral health, the periodic removal of tartar remains essential. Contact a family dentist for more guidance on maintaining healthy teeth. For more information, contact a dentist like William U Britton DDS MAGD.