We’ll start off by making it clear that, no, you can’t keep anything in your periodontal pockets. In fact, the smaller they are the better.
You may not notice it, but your gums are not completely attached to your teeth at the gum line. At first, there’s actually a small gap between the tooth and the gums. This gap is called a periodontal pocket.
As you can imagine, if this gap goes deeper than a couple of millimeters, it can become problematic. If the probing goes deep, it’s a sign of periodontitis (i.e. gum disease). The deeper it goes, the worse the periodontitis!
If you ever had a dentist probe the gums and then mention a number to the hygienist or assistant, that number refers to how deep the probe went. Here’s a general guideline for what each probing depth means:
- 1-3 mm: Healthy gums. Keep up the good work!
- 3-5 mm: Mild periodontitis. If you start flossing and brushing regularly, you could prevent it from getting worse.
- 5-7 mm: Moderate periodontitis. You may need a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing.
- 7-10 mm: You might need surgical intervention by a periodontist (gum specialist).
As you can see, early intervention can prevent a trip to a dental specialist. Make sure to visit the dentist regularly to catch periodontitis as early as possible.