Periodontal charting has been a standard procedure for decades.
During your visit to the dentist’s office, you’re accustomed to the usual routine of having your teeth cleaned, flossed, inspected by the dentist, and x-rayed when necessary. However, if your dentist doesn’t include gum charts (also called periodontal charts) as part of his or her routine, it’s time to consider finding a different dental professional.
What is a periodontal chart?
A periodontal or gum chart is a chart that helps document the health of your gums. During this type of charting the dentist or hygienist will do the following:
- Count your teeth and number them on the chart
- Examine the teeth closely to look for movement, bleeding gums, damage, missing teeth, cavities, signs of decay
- Measure gaps between gums and teeth (called gum pockets)
- Note any potential problems on the corresponding tooth position of the chart
This type of examination is standard procedure at a patient’s first visit with a new dentist, so if you’ve been with your dentist for a while and he or she hasn’t performed one, there’s an incomplete picture of the health of your gums. After the initial chart creation, and if there aren’t any required treatments, the dentist or hygienist only makes a brief examination of your teeth and gums so they can add updates at subsequent visits.
Condition of gums
When a dentist and/or hygienist examines your teeth while creating the periodontal chart, they measure the difference in height between the point where your gums attach to your teeth and the level of your gum line. These gum pocket measurements, recorded in millimeters, receive notations on your chart. Generally, 2-3 mm is healthy while 5 mm and above can indicate a problem such a gum disease.
Along with gum pocket measurements, your dental professional also notes any bleeding, as these two factors help reveal the health of your gums. Healthy gums don’t bleed, but there’s no need to panic if your gums do bleed. Better home oral care and an increased frequency of dental visits can help treat and reverse minor issues. Problems that are more significant are easier to address with the early detection provided from thorough periodontal charting.
Value of charting
Following a thorough gum chart, your hygienist then proceeds with the cleaning. When the dentist comes to examine your teeth, he or she then looks over the gum chart to gain an idea of where any potential issues exist. This chart then helps other dental professionals understand your mouth if you require a procedure outside of what your normal dentist performs.
With a better understanding of what gum charting is, you now know how important it is that you have one included among routine dental care. Periodontal charts are standard procedure in our offices and part of our commitment to protecting your healthy smile.