By Dr. David Pereira
Probing; It’s a dental thing. It is one of several diagnostic techniques that dentists use to diagnose the oral habits of our patients. Most dentists relate probing to the medical equivalent of taking your blood pressure. When was the last time you went to see your doctor for an annual check up and they didn’t take your blood pressure? Hopefully the answer to that question is never. Yet, in dentistry probing is often skipped due to perceived time constraints. So what is probing? It is when your dentist or hygienist measures the depth between the tooth with a periodontal probe measuring a minimum of 6 locations along the edges of the tooth. Why is that? It is how we diagnose for periodontal disease. All patients who come to Greenwich Cosmetic Dentistry have annual periodontal evaluation and that includes probing.
You might ask, why should I care Doc? That’s easy; probing is the main diagnostic tool to diagnose the clinical attachment level. What is that you say? The Clinical Attachment level is the amount of space between where the tooth and the connective tissue meet. This measurement ranges from the theoretical 0 millimeters to the more serious 10 plus millimeters. That means that the space between the top of the gum line and the bottom of the pocket that attaches to the tooth is able to be measured.
Ok, that’s great, so what does that even mean?
Well, people lose teeth for a variety of reasons, however the three most common reasons are
- Periodontal disease
By measuring or rather probing on an annual basis we are able to monitor changes in the clinical attachment level of your dentition, if caught early there are several options available to try and prevent the periodontal condition from getting worse.
So, what is normal?
Good Question. Traditionally dentists prefer lower numbers. Numbers between 0-3 are good, when you go above 4, then we need to start thinking about treatment options. These options include treatments such scaling and root planning, selective application of local antibiotics and possibly bone grafting, among others. However, all these options can be potentially avoided by a regular visit to our office with regular cleanings and annual periodontal evaluations including probing.
So, if your dentist is not measuring your probing depths, maybe its time to change to the holistic care that is offered at Greenwich Cosmetic Dentistry. What are you waiting for?