Dr. Laura K. Geiger, DDS of Southeast Family Dental in Indianapolis, Indiana explains what a periodontal exam is and why it is important to the health of your teeth and gums.

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Hello again! This is Dr. Laura Geiger with Southeast Family Dental and today we are going to be talking about something we get asked about a lot – periodontal charts! If you’ve had one, you will easily remember feeling like you were being poked in the gums and lots of numbers being read aloud.

What this exam does, is measure the health of the gums and bone around each tooth. Each tooth has 6 areas that are measured, that is why there are so many numbers. Each number is actually a millimeter measurement, read off of the instrument that we are using. Numbers 1-3 generally are normal and healthy. Sometimes if the gum has pulled down away from the tooth a lower number may not be accurate to show how much bone loss is happening. But a dentist will let you know if that is the case.

I tell people that having a few 4s may not be a problem, depending on the situation. A 4 mm measurement could mean a few things. If it has been awhile since you have had a cleaning, a 4 can mean there is some inflammation of the gums making the measurement larger. But it can also signal the beginning of bone loss or periodontal disease around a tooth.

Another thing that we look to see is if the gums bleed as we do the measurement. In general, no bleeding means the gums are healthy. Smoking can sometimes mask the bleeding and that will make the gums appear healthier than they really are.

As we get to higher numbers on a periodontal chart, into the 5s and 6s, it is important to look at what is happening whether it be periodontal disease, a cracked tooth, some of the gum loss. These charts can tell us much more than you may think!

Everyone always wants to know why the chartings are done so often. In our office, we like to get a baseline chart when you are a new patient to know where we are starting from. After that, in general we do once a year to keep track of any changes. This is important for us to modify brushing and flossing habits and to catch any issues early!

I hope this video has helped explain a little of why the periodontal charts are important in oral health and maintenance. If you have any questions, please call and schedule an appointment today.

This is Dr. Geiger with Southeast Family Dental and remember we can make you smile.