Recession vs. Deep Pockets
Why your hygienist counts outloud
During a hygiene visit at one time or another, the hygienist has measured your gums. This is usually done annually unless additional care is determined. Using millimeter increments, two gum or gingival measurements are taken. One is for recession and the other pocketing.
Recession and pocketing are not the same. I hear variations of two statements from patients which lead me to believe this is a confusing topic to some. "I know my teeth are sensitive because I have deep pockets or because my gums have receded, I need deeper cleanings."
Let me clear this up.
Recession is the loss of gum tissue from around the tooth thus exposing the root. This exposed root makes the tooth more susceptible to decay and can cause the teeth to be sensitive. Measurements are taken along the outer surface of the gums. Measuring the recession helps keep tabs on its progression. If the measurements keep increasing, a gum specialist or Periodontist may have to step in to try and arrest the situation.
Measuring pockets or "probing" or "charting" helps determine the general periodontal or gum health. An instrument is placed down in-between the tooth and the gums to determine where the attachment of gum starts. This is known as the base of the pocket. Kind of like measuring where your finger nail is attached to your nail bed. The hygienist measures three sites per surface totally six sites per tooth. A normal or healthy range is between 1mm and 3mm, anything higher is indicative of infection.
By documenting and monitoring these measurements, dental professionals can make crucial decisions about the treatment that is best for you. Whether it be a referral to a specialist or coming in for an extra cleaning a year, the objective is to maintain a healthy oral environment and prevent further disease.