Maintaining Your Gum Health

Every six months and each time we do a dental examination, we check a number of things, not just whether your teeth are decayed but all the many factors that relate to a healthy mouth. One of the major parts of the examination is your gum/periodontal condition. Unhealthy gums are not always obviously spotted so to determine if someones gums are healthy or not the dentist would measure the pockets. To measure gums the dentist uses a specially designed probe which has a ball on the end. The ball on the end stops it being sharp and also helps the dentist to feel hardened debris or any rough edges on restorations.

However the main feature of the probe is the contrasting black band to help show how far the probe can be slid into the edge of the gum. This will give the dentist an accurate score of your perio conditions.

The first band is 3.5 to 5.5 mm from the end of the probe. To measure the perio the mouth is divided up into six sections known as sextants consisting of the upper six front teeth, lower six front teeth and the four back corners.

Whatever the worst score for that particular sextant is, then that’s the score assigned to the whole sextant. So, if the whole sextant were perfect apart from one spot then the whole sextant gets the score of the worst spot. The scores point to the treatment to be carried out.

0 – All is fine in that sextant.

1 – An area of gum bleeds when gently probed – a sign of inflammation.

2 – The ball at the end of the probe can feel roughness due to either calculus (tartar)or due to an edge on a restoration

3 – The probe has gone in far enough to reach the start of the black band (over 3.5mm). This “pocket” is too deep for the patient to get into thoroughly with normal cleaning.

4 – The probe has gone in beyond the end of the first black band back onto the silver area (over 5.5mm) .  Full pocket charting is appropriate.

*  Added if the probe will slide into the area between the roots. Usually tied to a score of 4. This is called furcation involvement. Furcation involvements are very difficult to eliminate.

The BPE scores lead treatment planning but they’re also useful as an easy guide for patients to watch their own progress.