Have you always wondered what the dentist is doing when they start to measure the pockets of your gums? This is known as perio charting, and it is an important part of tracking the health of your gums over time. Here are a few things that you need to know about this documentation process.
How Often Is Perio Charting Done?
You may have realized that your dentist doesn't do perio charting measurements every single time you go to the dentist. It is typical for the dentist to do it once a year, and alternate by taking x-rays during your next visit. This helps prevent the visit from being too long and spaces out the procedures that only need to be done once a year.
How Does Perio Charting Work?
Your gums will start to develop pockets between the gum tissue and the teeth over time, as the gums will slowly become detached from the tooth surface. This can happen naturally due to your age, but can also happen due to poor oral care. The dentist will use a special tool that measures the depth of these pockets in millimeters. They will use the tool to determine how deep each pocket is on each tooth.
The dentist is not only measuring the depth of each pocket that is beneath each tooth but the area between the teeth as well. They will also note if the gums are bleeding when they probe the pocket. These results are compared from year to year to see if your gum recession is getting better, worse, or staying the same.
What Causes Pockets To Form?
The most common cause of pockets along your gums is a lack of proper oral care at home. You may not floss frequently, do not angle the toothbrush bristles so that they go along the gum line, or don't brush long enough. As the soft plaque gets into those gum pockets, it will eventually harden and turn into tartar. This will lead to inflammation of the gums, which develops those pockets and makes them deeper, and is a common reason for gum disease.
What Can Be Done If Your Gums Have Deep Pockets?
If your dentist notices deep pockets along your gums, they may recommend a procedure called scaling and root planing. It is the process of removing all of that hard tartar beneath your gums so that they can start to heal properly. Your dentist will then check on those pockets during a future appointment to ensure that the recession is no longer getting worse.