At your last dental exam, you may have heard the dentist or hygienist say numbers while scanning your teeth with an instrument. The numbers were grouped in triplets and called out after each tooth ("three-two-three, two-one-two"). These findings correspond to the space between your teeth and gums. They are typically measured using an instrument called a periodontal probe, which is pictured at the start of this article. Each color change corresponds to three millimeters, creating a sort of measuring stick for the mouth.
The numbers you hear are the millimeters that the probe slips below the gum line. A reading from one to three millimeters is generally considered healthy. Measurements four and above indicate the presence of a periodontal pocket, where the bone has recessed away from the tooth. There are many different treatments for periodontal disease, ranging from deep cleanings to bone grafts, designed to halt or reverse increasing pocket depths. If you would like to know more about dental exams, cleanings or periodontal services, please give our office a call!