Why the Dentist Charts Your Gums

Posted on: 28 February 2023

When you get a dental exam, the dentist or hygienist will probe and chart your gums. Charting the gums is important for many reasons. In some cases, the measurements may indicate additional treatment or possible dental problems down the road. Keep reading to learn more about how dental charting works, why it's done, and what could happen if you fail to get treatment for unfavourable results.

What is dental charting?

Dental charting is when the dentist or hygienist takes a probe and measures the pockets in your gums. Pockets are gaps between your gums and the base or root of the tooth. The dentist or hygienist inserts the probe in several places around each tooth. They assign a number to the area based on how deep they can insert the probe.

Why is dental charting important? 

Dental charting gives the dentist a measurable way of monitoring your gum's health. Charting over time allows the dentist to monitor problems and track treatment progress. They may give suggest ways to improve your gum health based on your charting outcome.

What do dental charting numbers mean? 

Each probe result gets a number. The higher the number, the larger your gum pockets are. The dentist or hygienist also notes if you have bleeding gums. Most people have some pockets, but smaller pockets usually don't need special treatment.

Toothbrushes can still clean effectively around small pockets. Deeper pockets need specialised treatment. Many dentists will do deep cleaning for moderate pockets, especially if they discover any bleeding. Large pockets usually require surgical correction.

What happens if you ignore your gum pockets?

If you ignore large gum pockets, you put the health of your teeth at risk. Gums can become infected, and that could hasten tooth loss. Your gums may also recede, which not only looks bad but can also lead to bone loss and other problems. Bone loss can eventually lead to tooth loss, as well.

What can you do to improve gum health?

If you catch and treat moderate and large pockets early, you can often improve their health with deep cleaning and root planing. On top of that, good oral hygiene can improve your pockets and prevent them from happening. Your dentist or hygienist can prescribe or suggest different brushes, toothpaste, and rinses to reduce the chance of bacteria entering your pockets.

Dental gum charting is an important part of your dental exam. Most dental offices do it at least once a year. Charting can help preserve your teeth and gums. If you haven't seen a dentist for a while or haven't had your gums charted, contact your local dentist as soon as possible.