Periodontal charting is an integral part of your dental health care. It helps to track the progression and treatment of periodontitis, also known as gum disease. While this type of infection is common, many people don’t realize that periodontal charting can play an essential role in preventing it.
Periodontal charting monitors your gum health by measuring the space between your teeth and the surrounding gum tissue. This information is vital because it can provide insights into the overall health of your teeth, gums, and jaws.
How Is Periodontal Charting Performed?
Your dentist will typically complete periodontal charting during your routine dental check-up. The process involves using a measuring instrument, called a probe, to check the depth of the space between your teeth and gums. Your dentist will gently insert the probe into the pocket of space and record its depth in millimeters. In general, healthy gum tissue has a depth between one and three millimeters. Pockets measuring more than four millimeters indicate bacterial buildup and inflammation that, if left untreated, could lead to gum disease.
What Questions Will Your Dentist Ask?In addition to periodontal charting, your dentist will also ask you questions to gain a fuller understanding of your gum health. They will generally want to know if you’re experiencing persistent dental issues like bleeding or pain when eating and chewing. Other common questions might include:
- Do you floss regularly? If so, how often?
- How often do you brush your teeth?
- Do you use mouthwash to freshen your breath?
Benefits of Periodontal Charting
Because mild cases of gum disease are often painless, it is easy to overlook symptoms of periodontitis. During periodontal charting, your dentist will carefully check for early signs of gum disease. If symptoms are present, they will work with you to develop a preventive treatment plan and monitor your oral health for any changes in the future. Simple steps like following a proper oral hygiene routine and attending regular dental check-ups can help prevent the development of gum disease.
Your dentist may notice signs of more advanced gum disease such as red or swollen gums, gum recession, or high measurements during probing. In this case, they will recommend a course of treatment to promptly address the issue before the infection gets worse.
Periodontal charting can also give your dentist a good idea of whether you’re brushing and flossing correctly at home. If your gums are inflamed, your dental care team can provide hygiene tips to avoid the buildup of plaque, tartar, and food particles that could lead to cavities or an infection.
Who Should Have Their Periodontal Charting Checked?If you are experiencing oral discomfort during routine tasks, like bleeding or pain when eating and chewing, it’s essential to make a dental appointment right away. These symptoms can be early signs of gum disease. Other common symptoms include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing and flossing
- Bad breath that won’t go away even after brushing or using a tongue scraper