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What does dental probing mean?


Have you ever been having your teeth cleaned and heard your dentist or dental hygienist shout out numbers like "three, two, four" while they seem to be poking your gums? What they are doing is called periodontal probing, but do you know what this entails or what these numbers mean? If you don't, here is a quick and easy explanation of what is happening inside your mouth.


What does periodontal probing mean?

What your dentist or dental hygienist is doing when they are "poking" your gums is called periodontal probing. During this routine we are measuring the gum's pocket depth, which is the depth of the space between the gums and the tooth. This depth is determine by measuring the distance from the gum-line down to the deepest point where the gum starts to attach to the tooth. We do this by using a dental instrument called a dental probe which looks like a tiny little ruler, inserting it underneath the gum-line and "walking" the end of the dental probe along the deepest section of the pocket. Depending on how deep the dental probe is able to be inserted this will determine the depth measurement of this pocket section. We obtain a total of six pocket depth readings per tooth and we do this for all of the teeth present in the mouth.

What is a healthy/good pocket measurement?

A normal and healthy pocket measurement is consider any depth measurement ranging between one to three millimeters. Although there are some other factors that determine the gum's health such recession and CAL (clinical attachment loss) which I will talk about in a future post, for the simplicity of this post we will determine that a pocket depth of one to three millimeters is considered healthy.

A pocket measurement of 4 millimeters is what I like to refer to as the "warning zone". This depth measurement is not necessarily bad, but it's also not good/healthy.

Any pocket measurement reading of 5 millimeters or deeper is consider to be an unhealthy measurement and your dentist will most likely recommend a deep cleaning to help you stabilize the pocket depth and prevent further increase in depth.


Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope this gave you a better understanding of what's happening in your mouth when your dentist or dental hygienist is "poking" your gums. If you have any questions please leave them in the comment section below. If you enjoyed and found it educational please share it with your friends and family on Facebook and follow us on Instagram. It only takes 1 minute of your time and it helps us out a lot. Thanks