Periodontal charting (or gum measurements) are your dentist’s primary screening process for gum disease. This annual assessment allows your hygienist to check the gum tissue and bone levels around each tooth for inflammation (swelling) and infection . When done regularly, periodontal charting can catch gum disease early, allowing your dentist to be proactive about treatment and stop any progression of the disease.
Your hygienist will use a instrument called a perio probe that is marked like a small ruler to take measurements around each tooth. But what do the numbers your hygienist calls out mean?
1-3mm: This spot has a healthy amount of bone surrounding the tooth
4mm: 4 millimeters usually means the beginning stages of inflammation and infection in the gums around the tooth.
5+mm: Measurements that are 5 millimeters or higher let your dentist know that the gum disease has started to affect the bone around the tooth, and it is time to consider treatment options to stop the progression of bone loss.
How can I improve my measurements?
- Stop smoking: smoking tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease because it prevents proper healing
- Control your blood sugar: uncontrolled diabetes affects the immune system making it harder for you to fight off the bacteria that cause gum disease
- Brush your teeth: plaque on your teeth contains bacteria that cause swelling, bleeding, and infection
- Floss your teeth: Flossing is just as important at as brushing. Your toothbrush is too wide to properly clean between the teeth, and it leaves behind harmful bacteria. Using floss will remove trapped bacteria
If you have any question about periodontal charting, gum disease, or how they affect you, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist!