Gum Disease: Preventing Perio-Pockets!

September 28, 2011 | Posted in Education

Have you ever been to your dentist office and perhaps listened while your dentist or a hygienist called out a series of numbers to someone else who would write those numbers down? Have you ever wondered exactly what they are doing?

What they are doing is called “perio-probing” and it is one of the most important functions your dentist office can provide during an examination. So if it is so important, you may be wondering what exactly is “perio-probing”.

Perio-probing is a procedure whereby your dentist or hygienist will measure the depths of the pockets around your gums and teeth. S/he will place a specific dental instrument against the tooth and gently press it down to see how far or deep your pockets are.

Ideally, the healthier the gums, the smaller the pocket depth will be. The optimal situation would have pockets no deeper than 3 millimetres. This is a sign that your gums are snug to your teeth providing good support and less room for bacteria to build up below the gum line.

At 4 or 5 millimetres, your dentist may recommend that you return for more frequently than twice per year, which is normal for someone in good dental health. The reason for the more frequent visits is simple. The larger the pockets, the easier it is for plaque and bacteria to build up below the gum line.

When that happens, you could be dealing with a situation where the health of your gums continues to deteriorate. The longer the bacteria are allowed to remain, the more damage it will do to the gum tissue. Visiting your dentist more frequently to remove this build-up will provide better protection for your gums.

If gum disease is allowed to progress, more and more of the tooth and the underlying root, ligaments and jaw bone exposed to greater levels of bacteria.  When the bacteria gains even easier access to those areas, the amount of damage it can do will increase.

As it attacks these structures which support the teeth in place, their hold on your teeth will become weaker. Gradually, the teeth will become loose until they ultimately fall out or need to be removed.

And it might interest you to know that this is not a rare occurrence. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults over 25 years.

In addition to increasing the frequency of your dental visits, improved oral health care practices at home may be necessary. Your dentist can provide you with some tips on this front. Regular brushing and flossing are vital to ensuring healthy gums. And having healthy gums is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon