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What Periodontal Charts Show About Your Health


Periodontal charts are an important part of your dental health records.  When updated at least once each year, they show present condition and the trend of your oral health.

When used in combination with dental x-rays and a visual examination, periodontal  aka gum charts, are the best way to determine the health of your gums and bone.

Gum charting is the part of your dental exam where the hygienist measures and records your periodontal (gum) pockets. More about gum pockets here.

These days, like most health records,  periodontal charting is recorded digitally. But some dental practices still use hand written charts.

The way they are recorded is not as important as how frequently and carefully they are updated.

We all have periodontal pockets but they may only be mentioned when they are unhealthy.  

Healthy pockets measure 1-3 millimeters and don't bleed when they are gently measured with a periodontal probe.


Charting method

Six measurments are taken around each tooth ~ three on the cheek side and three on the tongue side. Each measurement is recorded. Areas that bleed are also noted.


Sometimes the hygienist will have an assistant who records the measurements as they are taken. In this case you will hear a lot of numbers being dictated, 3-2-3 being the most common set of measurements for a healthy mouth.

Using a regularly updated chart helps your dentist or hygienist track the health of your gums. Most gum charts include the following information...

  • Pocket depth
  • bleeding
  • gum recession

What do the numbers mean?

Periodontal Treatment

A 3 millimeter (mm) pocket is just as healthy as a 1mm pocket.

Periodontal pockets that are deeper than 3mm can be an indication of gum disease and occur for a variety of reasons including...

  • Bone loss
  • Inflamed gums
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Too much gum tissue

If the pocket is deeper than 3mm, it could be due to any one of the above reasons or a combination of factors.

An accurate gum chart, current dental x-rays, a clinical exam combined with the knowledge, skill, and experience of your dental team will help you maintain good dental health.  Learn more about gum pockets here.


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