When you go to the dentist to get a dental exam and dental cleaning, your dentist and dental hygienist are screening for certain types of oral conditions. Your dentist will check your teeth for cavities, look in your mouth for signs of oral cancer and other related problems. Before you get your teeth cleaned, your dental hygienist will also check your gums for gum disease.
How does your hygienist check for gum disease?
Have you heard your hygienist calling out a series of numbers, like “3, 2, 3” or “4, 3, 4”? What do they mean? Your hygienist is measuring how deep the “pockets” are around each of the teeth. The thin instrument that is used is called a periodontal probe. This probe is like a mini ruler that measures how deep the space is between your gums and teeth in millimeters. The deeper the pocket is, the worse your gum attachment is.
What do these numbers mean?
6 spots are measured around each tooth to check assess the quality of attachment between your teeth and your gums.
Here are what the numbers represent:
Have you been in to see your dental hygienist for a cleaning lately? If not, call your dentist to schedule your next check-up. When they examine your gums for periodontal disease, pay attention to those numbers that are called out. Now you know what they mean!
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