Hygiene Perio Probing: The Purpose

Hygiene Perio Probing—also known as when your Plymouth, MN hygienist “pokes” your gums—is an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. Perio probing is used to evaluate and monitor the health of your gum tissue. This needs to be done on a routine basis to see if the gum health is stable or changing, just like your doctor checks for signs of high blood pressure or high cholesterol at each check up!

What does the probing show us? Three main things: the health of the sulcus, bleeding and recession.

The sulcus is the top of your gum tissue that is not attached the tooth (the area the floss slides into). When the sulcus is healthy, it clings to your tooth and the pockets measure at 1-3mm’s. When the sulcus is unhealthy, it detaches from the tooth and swells causing the pockets to measure at 4mm or above. Pocket depths above 4mm indicate periodontal disease and show your hygienist that you are in need of a deeper clean to prevent the disease from spreading or worsening.

Bleeding is a clear indicator of disease and inflammation. Sure, you may have bleeding every time you floss..but that is not normal. The more diligent you are with home care and routine cleanings, the less bleeding will be present. Bleeding occurs because the plaque and bacteria in your mouth cause an infection in your gum tissue. If bleeding is not addressed, eventually it can lead to more serious periodontal problems.

Recession occurs when the root of the tooth is exposed from underneath the gum tissue. During the perio probing, your hygienist measures the recession on each tooth to make sure it is not progressing. Recession that is not stabilized may lead to decay, sensitivity, or loosening of tooth.


Perio probing may be irritating or redundant, but it is necessary to fully evaluate the health of your mouth. Periodontal disease can spread quickly; by performing a periodontal reading every 6 months we are able to detect early signs or symptoms of periodontal disease and address the issue before it becomes a more painful problem!

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