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Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that causes inflammation in your gums and the supporting structures of your teeth.
You know those numbers, “two, two, three,” “three, two, three,” that your hygienist reads out while poking around your teeth with a pointy metal instrument? Your hygienist is using a periodontal probe (Don’t worry — it’s not actually sharp!) to gently measure the space, or “pocket,” between your teeth and gums, usually six measurements per tooth.
A normal, healthy pocket is around 1 to 3 millimeters deep. In early gum disease, or gingivitis, pocket depth ranges from 4 to 5 millimeters. When gum disease goes unchecked, these pockets deepen as the bone supporting your teeth recedes — potentially leading to tooth loss.