Periodontal charting is a very important aspect in the health of the dental patient.  It is a way to measure gum tissue health and the numbers represent the depth at which the tissue attaches to the tooth.  This depth is the difference in height between the level of your gum line and the point at which the gum actually attaches to your tooth.  The periodontal probe is the instrument that measures these pocket depths.  It is long, thin, and blunted at the end.  It is somewhat like a ruler in that there are markings that represent a certain number of millimeters.  It is gently inserted into the pockets around teeth and the deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease.  In healthy gums, the pocket measures 3 mm or less, and there is also no bone loss on the x-rays.  The numbers are recorded onto a form, such as the example above.

When left untreated, gingivitis can advance into early periodontal disease.  The pockets in the gums around the teeth contain tartar, plaque, and bacteria which cause gum inflammation, irritation, and even decay.  A good daily oral hygiene routine at home in conjunction with regular cleanings at your dentist’s office are the best way to keep your gums healthy.