These measurements are the depth of the sulcus or periodontal pocket at six specific points on each tooth. The bottom of the “pocket” is where the gingiva attaches at the root of your tooth. A small probe with millimeter increments marked onto it is slid just under the gums until it rests at the bottom of the pocket. Then the corresponding measurement at the edge of the gums is recorded, so that your dentist knows how deep each pocket is.
A healthy gum sulcus is anywhere up to 3mm deep. We consider this “within normal limits.” But when plaque bacteria, inflammation, and disease start setting in, the tissues at the bottom of the pocket begins to detach from the tooth. At this point a periodontal pocket is created, which leads to a host of other symptoms, including: Loss of bone support Redness and swelling Halitosis Tooth mobility Gum recession …and ultimately tooth loss. Depending on the depth of your periodontal
The only way to clean inside of a periodontal pocket is with regular flossing and/or the use of a water pik/flosser. Unfortunately, floss does not get more than 2-3mm below the gum tissues. If you have moderate to severe pocketing, it will be physically impossible to keep the root surfaces of your teeth clean with traditional floss. Some research does claim that water piks/flossers can clean up to 7mm below the gums, making them more useful than string floss.
While tooth loss is typically the biggest concern associated with periodontal pockets, the infection poses a significant risk to your overall health. Active gum disease drastically increases the risk and severity of systemic health conditions like: Heart attack Stroke High blood pressure Diabetes Infertility Erectile dysfunction Preeclampsia Pneumonia Respiratory illness …and possibly Alzheimer’s Disease. Seeing a dentist for periodontal treatment isn’t just important for your smile, it’s vital to your health.