What happens during a periodontal exam?
The purpose of a periodontal exam is to gauge gum health. Your dentist will measure the pockets that surround the teeth using a periodontal probe that is inserted between the teeth and the gum. The probe is a narrow instrument calibrated with lines marked in millimeters. The dentist will probe the perimeter of each of your teeth to measure the depth of pockets around it. The depth of those pockets will determine whether periodontal disease has begun. Depths of two to three millimeters are considered healthy. Anything deeper than that indicates a problem.
The dentist will also look for and note any areas that bleed during the probing. Bleeding is a sign of inflammation, which may in turn be a sign of bacterial infection.
During the exam, the dentist will also observe the color and texture of the gums, any areas of gum recession and measure tooth mobility. The dentist will record these observations to create a baseline against which to compare future examinations. The good news is that mild periodontal disease is reversible with a rigorous program of home brushing and flossing.