The 1-2-3s of Measuring Gum Health

gum health woman smiling

If you’ve heard us calling out and recording a series of numbers during your dental visit at Dental Solutions of Avon and wondered what that was all about, we were most likely measuring the depth of these gum spaces. Around each tooth, there’s a space between the top of the gum and where the gum attaches to the tooth. This space is called the sulcus. When the mouth is healthy with the gums in good shape, these gaps measure up to 3-4mm deep.

When possible, we take these measurements at least once a year. We use a tiny millimeter ruler with a blunt end that you might hear us call a periodontal probe. The measurements are recorded on a chart so we can monitor them. For each tooth, there are 6 measurements taken—3 on the front (or facial) side, and 3 on the back (or lingual/tongue) side. We’ll take gum measurements twice a year or more if a patient has active or previous periodontal (gum) disease. We are always gentle and careful, and the periodontal probe won’t damage the sensitive gum tissue.

Indicators of Gum Disease

When the spaces between the teeth and gums measure 4mm or more, we call the gaps “pockets.” Gum pockets are an indication of gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. More advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. In some cases of periodontitis, gum pockets can measure 10mm deep or more! This is because the infected gum tissue has pulled away from the tooth, in some instances all the way down to the root.

Other indicators of gum disease include dark red or bluish-red coloring of the gums, swollen gums, gums with a tendency to bleed, and gums otherwise shaped differently than normal. You might be surprised to find out that gum disease doesn’t always hurt so if you notice any of these signs of gum disease, don’t wait until you feel pain to contact us for an appointment. Having said that, gum tenderness, soreness, or pain can also be a sign of gum disease.

Prevention & Early Intervention

Dr. Weida and our team at Dental Solutions of Indianapolis focus on prevention and early intervention whenever possible. By taking and monitoring gum measurements at regular dental visits, we’re better equipped to detect small issues before they become large problems. We are here to help you understand your gum health and, when necessary, to identify areas that need treatment to heal. If you have gingivitis or periodontitis, we think you have better options than ever before for care! Visit the Gum Therapy page on our website to learn more. Contact us to schedule your next convenient dental checkup to keep your teeth and gums looking good and feeling great!

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