Periodontal Probing

Periodontal probing is the measurement of the gum pockets for evaluating the periodontal disease status.  It is done with a periodontal probe which is a instrument with depth marking and it is inserted into the gum pocket to measure its depth.  The depth of the gum pocket corresponds to the loss of attachment of the gum tissue to the surface of tooth.  It indicates the periodontal disease status.


The loss of attachment occurs when there is inflammation of the gum tissue.  When there is a bone loss around a tooth, the periodontal probing can also indicate the amount of bone loss.  The amount of bone loss can also be confirmed by the bitewing radiographs.

For new patient who comes in for comprehensive exam, I would establish a baseline periodontal probing measurement and record those measurements in patient’s chart.  Each tooth is probed at six different site.  Three on the facial side of the tooth; another three on the lingual side of the tooth.  The recorded gum pocket depths are written on the periodontal chart.  The following is a periodontal chart:

Periodontal disease, gum treatment

Periodontal disease, gum treatment


The patient has only one missing teeth.  The teeth are numbered from 1 to 32.   There are three dates on the chart.  The initial baseline measurements show probing depth ranging from 1 to 5 mm.  Depth from 1 to 3mm is considered normal depth for typically healthy gum tissue.  Depth from 4 to 5 mm indicates some incipient periodontal problem.  From the initial measurements, it shows that the patient used to have incipient stage of periodontal disease.  Thus I perform the periodontal treatment called Scaling and Root Planing.


Then patient would come in for periodontal maintenace once every 3 months.  Subsequent visits I re-measure the gum pockets and the patient shows significant improvement in the health of gum tissue.  There are reduction of pocket depths.  In the most recent visit, patient has almost all of his teeth return to normal range.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Practicing General Dentist Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona.