Dental Hygiene Q&A

What is Periodontal Probing?

periodontal-gum-diseaseDr. James or a Hygienist uses a special instrument to take six measurements around each tooth. These measurements are used to determine the bone height and health of your gum tissue.


Healthy gum tissue presents firm and pink. No bleeding is present and periodontal probings are 1-3 millimeters.


Red swollen gum tissue accompanied by bleeding, which is the first stage of gum disease caused by bacterial plaque in the mouth. Periodontal probings are 4mm. Indicated for improved home care (flossing and increased brushing). Periodontal pockets which are 5mm or deeper indicate periodontal disease. This is a condition that occurs when the inflammation in the gum tissue begins to destroy the bone and soft tissue attachment around your teeth. As the disease progresses, pockets of tissue form around teeth, trapping bacteria and tarter, increasing bone loss and may result in loss of teeth.

What is Plaque?

Plaque is a soft film, which forms on teeth when you eat sugars and complex carbohydrates. It contains bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

What is Tatar?

Tartar is a hard calcified substance that forms on teeth when plaque combines with minerals in your diet and saliva, and presents as a white, brown or black deposit on teeth. Tartar contributes to periodontal disease by providing a place for bacteria to “hide.” In order to remove tartar, a dental hygienist must use a special instrument.

What is Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical treatment for periodontal disease sometimes referred to as a “deep” cleaning. This procedure is completed by a dental hygienist and involves removal of tartar and bacterial plaque from under gum tissues. The dental hygienist will also smooth root surfaces to encourage reattachment of soft tissues. This procedure is performed in a series of three to five appointments and the patient is given a local anesthetic for comfort (“numbed”). A reevaluation appointment is preformed four weeks after the completion of scaling and root planing. This is an opportunity to evaluate how the tissues have responded to treatment, and determine future needs. Patients who have had scaling and root planing need to return every 3-4 months for regular dental cleanings to maintain healthy tissue.

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  • 9351 Grant Street, Suite 340
    Thornton, Colorado 80229
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  • My recent visit was for a long overdue (10yrs+) dental hygiene/cleaning. Fortunately, Dr. James' dental hygienist, Brandy, has a very delicate touch, as compared to previous cleanings at other clinics where it felt like a full-on assault to my mouth! My visit was right on time, no wait at all, and the cleaning procedure was over before I knew it!

  • My family has been going to Sue James for many years; my kids see her now! There are no words that do her and her team justice! If you need a great Dentist please call Sue James, you will never go anywhere else.

  • Dr. Sue's office was wonderful in expediting my remaining dental care, as my dental plan was rapidly expiring due to an unexpected layoff. Dr. Sue and her excellent staff are professional, well-experienced, and do their best to minimize the stress and pain issues that probably keep many patients from taking full advantage of their dental plan benefits.

  • We value, respect, and appreciate the care of Dr. Sue James. She and her staff provide excellence in every way. Dr. James just replaced an old crown with minimal discomfort as well as ensuring I was happy with the result. Cannot say enough good things about her capabilities. Love Dr. James and her amazing, kind, helpful, and skilled group.

  • Always a fast, painless experience at Dr. Sue's. we have been customers since she began her own practice, and love all of her staff. three thumbs up!

  • After my past experiences with other dentists I used to hate going. Coming to Dr Sue James I actually enjoy coming in and everyone on the staff is so friendly. Thank you

  • I Loved the office and all the staff, they are super friendly and Sue James is amazing definitely the place to go for all your dental needs.


5280-whiteDr. Sue James has been recognized as a "Top Dentist" by 5280 Magazine every year since 2008.

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