Periodontal Probing


Katie Moynihan-Sias, BS RDH

Periodontal Probing

During your routine dental hygiene visits, your hygienist will perform an assessment called periodontal probing. Periodontal means to surround or encase a tooth. This assessment is used to determine the health of your gums and supporting structures. A periodontal probe is used to determine how deep the pockets are around your teeth. This probe consists of millimeter increment markings that allows the hygienist to measure the space between the tooth and the gums. As the hygienist performs this assessment, each millimeter measurement is documented with its correlating tooth. These measurements, along with x-rays and other assessments taken throughout the appointment, allow the dentist and hygienist to accurately recommend a proper cleaning for you.

Here is a breakdown of what each number means:

Pocket depths 1-3mm: tissues are in health with no bone loss present. Usually gums are firm and light pink in color with no bleeding upon probing.

Pocket depths 4mm: gingivitis is present but no bone loss. Usually the gums are red and inflamed with light-moderate bleeding present.

Pocket depths 5+mm: periodontitis is present with bone loss visible on x-rays. Periodontal disease can be classified as mild to advanced. Usually the gums are severely inflamed and painful, bleed easily, and tooth mobility can occur. Mild periodontitis is present with 4-5mm probe depths. Moderate periodontitis is present with 5-6mm probe depths. Advanced periodontitis is present with >6mm probe depths.

Once your hygienist performs a complete periodontal assessment of your mouth, he or she will inform you of your periodontal health. The dentist and hygienist will review all clinical assessments before recommending a proper cleaning. A “regular” cleaning may not be suitable for everyone. Once a patient presents with signs of periodontal disease, non-surgical periodontal therapy, such as scaling and root planning (a deep cleaning), will be recommended to properly treat the active disease. For more information on that please visit Non-Surgical Periodontal Therapy. In signs of advanced periodontitis, a referral to a Periodontist may be recommended for further evaluation and treatment.

The next time you are in for a cleaning, ask your hygienist for a report of your latest periodontal probings! As always, routine dental cleanings and proper homecare is recommended to keep your mouth happy and healthy!

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Staining and Whitening Toothpaste


Becky Larson, RDH

Staining and Whitening Toothpaste

What’s the deal with whitening toothpaste?  Does it really work?

First off, let’s talk about what causes teeth to become discolored or less white.  The main cause is food.  Any foods that contain dark pigment can leave dark stains on the teeth.  These include coffee, tea, soda, wine, chocolate, dark fruits, etc.  Smoking or using tobacco products can also leave dark stains.  If plaque is not removed thoroughly from the tooth surface, it can harden and has a yellow appearance.  Most of these stains can be prevented or removed.  The only real way to prevent dark stains from adhering to the teeth is not eat or drink the foods that cause the staining.  Plaque that has hardened over time will need to be removed by your dental hygienist.  If cutting these foods or drinks out is not ideal, brushing with toothpaste before and rinsing with plain water after can help reduce the amount of stain present. Efforts to reduce the amount of plaque left include brushing with an electric toothbrush twice daily for 2 minutes and use the “C” shape method of flossing where the floss is wrapped around the lateral side of the tooth while flossing.

Using a whitening toothpaste can also help reduce surface stains as well.  Many toothpaste brands offer whitening toothpastes.  In our offices we offer the Colgate Optic White toothpaste.  While all toothpastes can remove surface stains because of mild abrasive ingredients, the whitening toothpastes tend to be slightly more abrasive to further remove those tough coffee, tea, or tobacco stains left on the teeth.  The Colgate Optic White does contain hydrogen peroxide, which has a history as a bleaching agent.  However, in toothpaste, the hydrogen peroxide usually combines with other ingredients (such as baking soda) and helps to polish and wear away surface stains left on the teeth.  Usually whitening toothpastes can help whiten teeth up to about 1 shade lighter, where as in office bleaching can whiten 3-8 times lighter.

If you are worried about staining on your teeth please talk to your dentist or dental hygienist to see which products would be best for you.  Happy brushing!

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How to Clean Your Denture/Partial Denture


Lindsay Olsen, RDH

How to Clean Your Denture/Partial Denture 

Rinse your dentures before brushing to remove any loose food or debris.

Use a soft bristle toothbrush and a non-abrasive cleanser to gently brush all the surfaces of the dentures so they don’t get scratched.

When brushing, clean your mouth thoroughly—including your gums, cheeks, roof of your mouth and tongue to remove any plaque. This can help reduce the risk of oral irritation and bad breath.

When you’re not wearing your dentures, put them in a safe place covered in water to keep them from warping.

Do not sleep with your dentures. Your tissues need to breath overnight. If you do not take out your dentures at night, you are at risk of developing oral fungal infections.

Occasionally, denture wearers may use adhesives. Adhesives come in many forms: creams, powders, pads/wafers, strips or liquids. If you use one of these products, read the instructions, and use them exactly as directed. Your dentist can recommend appropriate cleansers and adhesives; look for products with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Products with the ADA Seal have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

Visit your dentist once every 6 months for a complimentary oral cancer screening, and to have the fit of your denture evaluated.

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Nitrous Oxide

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Lora Cook, RDH

Nitrous Oxide 

What is it and how can it help you?  

Nitrous oxide, other wise known as laughing gas, is a form of sedation dentistry that our offices offer.

Nitrous is gas that you can breath. It was discovered in 1772 by Humphrey Davy. Humphrey did self administration to see if it would help on his own tooth ache he was experiencing at the time.

There is a lack of oxygen in pure nitrous so with longer periods of time using nitrous, this can lead to unconsciousness and even death. However, when nitrous is mixed with oxygen it is safe to use for longer periods of time.  The mix that is commonly used in dentistry is 70% oxygen to 30% nitrous.

Four Levels of Sedation with Nitrous Oxide

1.  Initial light headless, followed by a tingling sensation in arms and legs.

2.  Warm sensation

3. Feeling of well being or a feeling of floating

4.  Sleepiness, difficulty keeping eyes open.

Open communication 

Keep an open communication with your dental professionals on how you are feeling. Then goal is to remain in the first three levels of sedation.  If a nausea feeling comes over you this would indicate a overdose / over sedated.  Then dentist can simply adjust the percentages that you are receiving.

At the end of the procedure the dentist will administer five minutes of pure oxygen to clear any nitrous from your system.  All levels of sedation are then completely reversed.

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Amanda Orvis, RDH


Invisalign is a uniquely designed orthodontic treatment developed to correct mild to severe cases of malocclusion, including crowding, protruding or crooked teeth, overbites and/or underbites. Invisalign is an affordable option for correcting most dental malocclusion problems.


You may be asking yourself, what is the difference between Invisalign and traditional braces? With Invisalign you can achieve very similar if not the same outcomes as traditional braces. The advantages of Invisalign are the comfort, flexibility, and ease of access to properly care for your teeth without having brackets, wires or rubber bands in your mouth.

Invisalign uses a series of aligners to straighten your teeth over the course of your treatment. Aligners are smooth plastic trays that you wear over your teeth. Each set of aligners is worn for a few weeks before changing to a new set.


The great thing about Invisalign is that there are no personal sacrifices in terms of food! You do not have to give up popcorn, chips, bagels, pizza crust, pretzels, nuts, apples, carrots, or corn on the cob. Fortunately, Invisalign aligners are removable, therefore allowing you to eat and drink as well as brush and floss your teeth as you would normally do. The aligners are worn for 20-22 hours a day while they gradually move your teeth into their correct positions. The aligners should only be removed to eat as well as brush and floss your teeth.


Often times crowding or malocclusion issues can lead to swollen, red, bleeding gums. These are signs of periodontal disease. By properly aligning the teeth, inflammation is reduced, allowing your gum tissue to fit properly around the teeth. This provides a defense against potential periodontal problems.

Food debris and plaque build-up can lead to tooth decay. In order to maintain strong healthy teeth, simply remove your aligners and brush and floss as you would normally do. Try to avoid eating and/or drinking while your aligners are in your mouth.


  • Talk to your dentist about your interest in Invisalign.
  • Your dentist will take impressions and photos and send them off to Invisalign. A customized treatment plan will be created just for you.
  • After your treatment plan is created, you will then go into your dental office for a brief viewing of a virtual presentation of your anticipated final outcomes.
  • Upon your approval of your anticipated outcomes, Invisalign then fabricates your series of aligners and sends them to your dental office.
  • Your dental office will then call you to schedule an appointment for you to come in and receive your first set of aligners.
  • Over the course of your Invisalign treatment you will change out your aligners every few weeks.
  • After the completion of all of your aligners, retainers are then made to keep your teeth in their new positions to keep that new smile looking great.

We look forward to helping you create that new smile that you have always wanted.

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