Dental Tips Blog


What are Those Numbers that My Hygienist Keeps Calling Out?

Posted in Gum Disease

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:

  • 3 mm or less – Normal and healthy gums
  • 4mm – You have puffy gums called gingivitis (early gum disease that is reversible)
  • 5 mm or higher – periodontal disease (advanced gum disease that is not reversible unless you have a deep cleaning or surgery.)

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! 

Posted on behalf of:
Siena Dental
10075 S Eastern Ave # 107
Henderson, NV 89052-3974
(702) 567-0000


What is a Periodontal Screening?

Posted in Periodontics

“Periodontal” refers to the tissue and ligaments that support teeth in their sockets. These tissues are attached to teeth to protect and anchor the roots. There is more to your gums than meets your eye! Because periodontal disease is so common and easily unnoticed by the sufferers, your dental examinations should include a periodontal screening on a regular basis to ensure that these structures are healthy.

How Your Gums Are Screened

Your gum line should have a free margin of space around and in-between your teeth. This space generally should not exceed more than three millimeters in depth before it attaches to the tooth. This healthy three-millimeter depth is easy to keep clean with flossing and brushing.

If your gums become inflamed from bacteria, the gum line will swell and create a depth of around four millimeters as the tissue puffs away from your tooth. If the infection advances, the swelling can involve the ligaments deeper below your gum line. This causes an increase in gum depth, creating a “pocket.”

During a periodontal screening, your gums are measured for questionable depths, which indicate the presence of gum disease. Bleeding, gum recession, and pocket depths of four millimeters or more are all evaluated.

Why Screenings are Essential

By monitoring your periodontal health, your dentist or hygienist can make recommendations for specialized cleanings. Prevention is essential to preventing periodontal disease from spreading and resulting in tooth-loss. There is no replacement quite like your natural teeth!

Besides this, periodontal disease has been linked to other health problems such as diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, erectile dysfunction, and heart disease. Lower your risk for such health complications and save your teeth by having regular periodontal screenings at your local dentist’s office!

Posted on behalf of:
Georgia Denture and Implant Specialists
203 Woodpark Pl #102
Woodstock, GA 30188


3,2,3…2,1,2… What Do Those “Probing” Numbers Mean?

Posted in Gum Disease

It’s that time, again. Time for us to update your periodontal chart! This means that you’ll hear your hygienist measuring your teeth and reporting the numbers found. What exactly is being measured? And what do these numbers mean?

What Is a Periodontal Chart?

A periodontal chart is a map reflecting the clinically-measurable levels of gum and bone structure that protect and support your teeth. This chart records a total of six measurements for each tooth. These measurements are updated on a regular basis to document what areas are affected by recession or gum disease and helps us decide what treatment to recommend.

How and Why Is Probing Done?

Probing is done with a periodontal probe – a tiny dental ruler marked in millimeters. This probe is gently moved around each tooth just below the gumline. The probe measures from the top of the gum-line to the base of the shallow pocket created by the healthy seal between the gums and the tooth.

The Numbers: Keys to Your Periodontal Health

This shallow pocket, or sulcus, typically measures 1-3 millimeters in health. At this depth, you can keep your gums clean with a toothbrush and floss. Multiple measurements of 4 millimeters indicate that the gums are getting puffy from inflammation. This condition is reversible and is known as gingivitis. Measurements of 5 millimeters and greater can mean that the inflammation has advanced past the gums to involve the underlying ligaments and bone. This is periodontal disease. You want lower numbers!

Now that you know what those numbers mean, you’re ready to take action to keep them low! Visit your dentist for regular professional dental cleanings and checkups on the health of your gums.

Posted on behalf of:
Grateful Dental
2000 Powers Ferry Rd SE #1
Marietta, GA 30067
(678) 593-2979

Most Popular

Tori, Exostosis, and Extra Bone Formation in the Mouth

A fairly common occurrence in the mouth is the existence of extra bone development along the outside or inside of the jawline near the teeth, or in the roof of…

Lingual Frenectomy versus Lingual Frenuloplasty

Lingual frenectomy and lingual frenuloplasty are both dental procedures used to correct a condition called ankyloglossia. Ankylogloassia, more commonly known as ‘tied tongue’, is an abnormality of the lingual frenulum….

Difference Between Conscious and Unconscious Sedation

Sedation dentistry is a wonderful option for many people who would not or cannot tolerate dentistry in a traditional dental setting.   Many people have a fear of visiting the dentist,…