How Numbers Tell You About Gum Health

Dental HealthDental TreatmentsLifestyle
Dental HealthDental TreatmentsLifestyle

You have an appointment to have a checkup with us, you sit in the chair, open wide and then your dentist and the nurse seem to communicate in a form of ‘dental’ shorthand, not really making any sense, well I recently got asked by a patient what all those numbers mean at the beginning of the examination.

One of the first things that we do is to check the state (and health) of your gums, Gum disease is one of the most frequent issues that we see here at Will Murphy Dentistry and one of the measurements we use is to gauge the health of your gums is the gap between the pocket of your gum and the nearby tooth. Each of your teeth will receive a number for its gum gap.

We measure this distance in millimetres. As a patient, you want to hear a smaller number. That means that you have a smaller gap between the tooth and gum, a sign of a healthy mouth. A larger or a higher number indicates that you have gum issues such as plaque and tartar buildup.

If you hear numbers of 0 or 1, you are doing pretty well. 2 and  3 means we need to work on your gums a little more and 4 will require some deeper cleaning and closer monitoring. There is some great information on the British Society of Periodontology to help you keep your gums in great shape.

So next time you come to the surgery and you hear those numbers you’ll know what they mean but remember you want to make sure those numbers stay low, here are a couple of ways to ensure that your gums stay healthy.

  1. Floss, ideally each time you brush but floss at least once a day and if you can floss after you’ve eaten, even better.
  2. Make an appointment to see the hygienist regularly, this will prevent a build up of plaque and tartar.
  3. If you’re a smoker, quit! Smoking is associated with gum disease.
  4. Brush twice a day!

Have you got a question you’d like to ask us about what we do? Send us an email to and we’ll answer it , so keep an eye out on our posts.


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