Periodontal Probing 101

LindsayW

Lindsay Whitlock RDH

John, the patient, is taken back to the dental operatory for his dental cleaning appointment.  The dental hygienist reviews John’s chart, his medical history, and John addresses any concerns he has in his mouth. The hygienist lays John back in the chair. John cringes, as he sees the hygienist holding a pointy tool in her hand. She informs him, “John, I am going to take a few measurements around each tooth, to assess how healthy your gums, and bone levels are.” John opens his mouth, and thinks to himself “I wonder if this going to hurt?” “What is she even doing with that tool anyways?”

Prior to becoming a dental hygienist, I too was like John. I did not understand what that “pointy” tool was, or why it needed to be used. With this blog post, I would like to briefly educate my dental patients of what a periodontal probe is, and why it is utilized in the dental office.

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That pointy tool the hygienist uses at the beginning of a dental appointment is called a periodontal probe. The periodontal probe is marked in millimeter increments, which is used to evaluate the health of the patient’s gum, and surrounding bone levels of the jaw, with little to NO discomfort!

 

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Each of your teeth are sitting in jawbone. Additionally, each tooth is surrounded by gum tissue (gingiva). To simplify this concept, your gums surround each tooth like a turtleneck sweater.

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There is a natural space of pocket between the gum and tooth. The periodontal probe is used to measure this pocket depth, at each dental appointment.

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 In health, the tooth is surrounded by a gum pocket depth of 1-3 mm (No bone loss of the jaw bone).

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 If gingivitis is present (Swollen gums-no bone loss of the jaw bone) the tooth is surrounded by a 4 mm. pocket depth.

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 A periodontal pocket (Mild-Advanced periodontitis) is present when the space between the tooth and gum has been deepened by disease and bone loss. A 5-12 mm pocket depth surround the tooth or teeth.

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 The next time you are in the dental chair, feel free to ask your dentist or dental hygienist your latest periodontal probing scores. If you have never had these measurements taken before, call our office today and schedule a new patient exam, to determine the health of your mouth!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources:

http://image.slidesharecdn.com/probing-150304002025-conversion-gate01/95/probing-4-638.jpg?cb=1425450081

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.jabfm.org/content/23/3/285/F6.large.jpg&imgrefurl=http://imgkid.com/oral-cavity-diagram.shtml&h=929&w=1280&tbnid=QTPxgTXY_157NM:&zoom=1&docid=muXuT2D8a_l-rM&ei=gik0VeWcGZKHgwTj8oL4Bw&tbm=isch&ved=0CGwQMyhIMEg

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.anicesmile.com%2Fgum_care.htm&ei=eB00VZSAAcWqgwS6uIH4DA&bvm=bv.91071109,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNEelreU-hCgZkFOw-zD66VytX1oWw&ust=1429565102055540

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpixshark.com%2Fperiodontal-probe-measurements.htm&ei=IzI0VabtA8HYggTXhICoAQ&bvm=bv.91071109,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNG8JqFvrTWfgyW7lJDBKPoToB2P0g&ust=1429570410736621

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CAcQjRw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fimgbuddy.com%2Fperiodontal-probe-measurements.asp&ei=bBc0Vd3rJYa_ggT9tYHIAg&bvm=bv.91071109,d.eXY&psig=AFQjCNGZO6FQ7Orbd5mXZx5HOFLLyJqYdA&ust=1429563605237318

What is a Periodontal Maintenance?

AriannaM

Arianna Ritchey RDH

What is a Periodontal Maintenance?

One of the terms that is commonly used by dental professionals, and also commonly misunderstood by patients, is ‘Periodontal Maintenance.’  A periodontal maintenance procedure is similar to a prophy, or general adult cleaning, but is a more involved procedure meant for patients who have periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is characterized by deep periodontal pockets, inflammation, and bone loss.  Periodontal disease is an irreversible condition which, if left untreated, may lead to further bone loss and eventually tooth loss.  In order to treat periodontal disease, a dental hygienist or dentist will likely recommend a procedure called a “deep cleaning,” also known as SRP, or scaling and root planing.  Once a deep cleaning is completed, inflammation will reduce and periodontal pockets may decrease in depth.  When the patient’s periodontal status has stabilized, the next step in the care of the teeth and gums is periodontal maintenance, or more colloquially, “perio maintenance.”

Perio_Health

Periodontal maintenance is a teeth cleaning procedure which is done at either 3, 4, or 6 month intervals, depending on the patient’s needs.  The purpose of the periodontal maintenance procedure is to maintain the level of the periodontal disease present, and to prevent it from getting any worse.  Unfortunately, bone that has been lost as a result of periodontal disease does not grow back, and as such, periodontal pockets may remain at a deeper-than-optimal level despite the initial deep cleaning therapy.  These deep periodontal pockets collect plaque and tartar, and are impossible to clean properly with a toothbrush, floss, and other dental hygiene aids.  In order to keep these periodontal pockets clean and prevent further bone loss, it is necessary to have a dental hygienist regularly perform professional cleanings.

perio probe

Periodontal maintenance involves a dental hygienist scaling and root planing some areas in order to remove irritating tartar buildup.  When a dental hygienist performs root planing, instrumentation is completed below the gumline all the way to the bottom of the periodontal pocket.  This cleaning of the root surface below the gumline is what makes a periodontal maintenance different, more involved, and potentially more costly  than a prophy, or regular cleaning.

scaling-root-planing

In patients who have deep periodontal pockets, a prophy, or general cleaning, is not beneficial, because the irritating plaque and tartar below the gumline that is causing the most irritation and loss of bone is not removed during a prophy or general cleaning.  Performing a general cleaning on a patient with periodontal disease would be similar to sweeping dirt under the rug instead of properly cleaning a floor.  The offending dirt in the case of the floor,  or the bacteria-infused-tartar in the case of the mouth, is still present and causing harm.


Sweep-Dirt-Under-the-Rug-570x566

As dental hygienists, our primary goal and concern is to assist patients in maintaining the healthiest oral cavity possible.  Providing periodontal maintenance treatments for our patients who have periodontal disease at 3, 4, or 6 month intervals, along with the patient’s good oral hygiene care at home, is the best way to work towards a stable periodontal health status and to help our patients from experiencing bone and tooth loss.

perfect-smile

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

http://www.dentistingilbert.com

Sources

http://jdh.adha.org/content/82/suppl_2/16.refs

http://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-0/issue-9/columns/staff-rx/prophy-vs-perio-maintenance.html

https://www.deltadental.com/Public/Study/StudyPerio.jsp