Gary S. Rafal, D.D.S.
Appearance Is Not All That Counts
In Treating Periodontal Disease
Appearance is not the key in early diagnoses of chronic, destructive periodontal disease. Rather, it is the depth of the sulcus or pocket, formed by the fold of oral skin around the teeth. The normal depth is from one to three millimeters. When the attachment of the gum to the tooth is damaged and the sulcus extends beyond three millimeters, -apathological periodontal pocket has formed.
There is nothing exact about three millimeters. A shallower pocket may be infected by bacteria, while a deeper pocket could be due to a gingivitis without attachment damage. In some areas, five to six millimeters is normal because of natural gum contours. In general, pocket depths of one to three millimeters are normal. If probing induces bleeding - it indicates the pocket is inflamed and unhealthy.
True periodontal pockets must be distinguished from ones that result from enlargement of the gum tissue. This problem is primarily esthetic, with treatment geared to reduction of the excess tissue.