The Importance of Periodontal Charting
Each time you visit the dentist, you will notice that they bring out a chart and record information about your oral health. Along with regular brushing, use of interproximal aids, and routine prophylaxis, periodontal charting is an important facet in your overall oral health and care.
A periodontal chart tracks the progress of your gum tissue health over time. Your teeth are held in place by bone and gum tissue. If you have severe gingivitis, it can progress to periodontal disease where the gum tissues are compromised and, in some cases, you suffer bone loss. The dental hygienist checks for periodontal disease by measuring the depth of gum tissue around each tooth, which is then recorded on the periodontal chart. If we can measure a "pocket" of less than 3 mm around each tooth with no bleeding, your gums are in excellent health. This information for each tooth is recorded on a periodontal chart. When examining this chart, we can see if a problem area is isolated or widespread. We can also compare your gum health during the current visit to that of past visits to determine if your oral health is regressing.
Periodontal disease occurs when the gums pull farther away from the teeth and become inflamed by bacteria. The body's immune response fights the bacteria and will start to break down the bone and connective tissue. In advanced periodontal disease, the teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. Risk factors for periodontal disease include poor oral care, smoking, diabetes, stress, medications that lessen the flow of saliva, illnesses such as cancer, and a genetic history of periodontal disease.
If your periodontal chart reveals periodontal disease, it can potentially be treated through non-surgical approaches. A deep cleaning, or scaling, over several office visits is a starting point in treatment. This deep cleaning will remove built-up bacteria below the gum line. Prescription antibacterial mouth rinses and antibiotic gels may also be recommended.