According to the American Dental Association, 90 percent of tooth loss is caused by periodontal disease and tooth decay. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 50 percent of adult Americans suffer from periodontal disease. In light of these figures, a dentist at the Loyola University Medical Center has stressed the importance of periodontal health and evaluating it by measuring pocket depth.

To measure periodontal probing depth, a calibrated dental instrument is used. According to Dr. Martin Hogan, assistant professor at the center: “Dentists will often take measurements of the pocket depth to get a feel for the health of a patient’s gum tissue. Healthy gum tissue will usually yield numbers of less than 4 mm. Higher numbers indicate that the tissue is inflamed and some dental treatment may be necessary.”

A depth of 1–3 mm is considered healthy, but a depth higher than 5 mm requires further action to prevent disease. In such cases, dentists recommend regular cleaning every three months until periodontal health has improved. In rare instances, when the pocket depth exceeds 6 mm, gingival surgery may be necessary. “The gums are flapped back for better access during cleaning and then sutured together,” explained Hogan.

Periodontal disease can easily be prevented by appropriate dental care, as receding and inflamed gingivae are caused by a buildup of bacteria. Particles that can potentially cause inflammation in the mouth, such as food and drink, can be removed by regular brushing, flossing and professional cleaning.

Hogan emphasized the importance of these preventative measures to avoid more severe procedures: “Dental work can be expensive and take time away from work and other activities. This is why we continue to stress preventative measures such as brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, in hopes of avoiding costly and time-consuming procedures.”

Original Source: The Dental Tribune.com