Do you ever wonder why you get your gums poked when you’re at the dentist? What exactly are they looking for? Why are some areas more sensitive than other areas? The instrument your hygienist or dentist use to poke your gums is called a periodontal probe. The periodontal probe is actually a calibrated instrument used to measure the depth and topography of periodontal pockets. A periodontal pocket is the area between your tooth and the gum next to the tooth. Probing provides an assessment of bone loss and periodontal health. So what exactly does all of this mean? Each dental visit, your hygienist will probe your gums (next to the tooth) and track the measurements they get. A normal, healthy reading would be a pocket depth between 1-3 mm. Pockets deeper than 5 mm may indicate periodontitis. Periodontitis is an inflammation of the gums around the tooth, causing the gums to pull away from the tooth. As the gums pull away from the tooth, plaque spreads lower and lower below the gum line, allowing bacteria in. If the condition is not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed. If the pockets around your teeth become too deep, your dentist or hygienist may recommend root planing and scaling. Root planing and scaling is a deep cleaning of your periodontal pockets to remove all of the built up plaque. Don’t worry, your hygienist will numb your gums before this procedure, making it a piece of cake! Now when your hygienist or dentist are probing your teeth and you feel a sensitive area, you will know you need to pay more attention to that tooth when you are flossing and brushing. If you are in need of a dental cleaning, you can call 952-938-7746 or click HERE to request an appointment.