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Probing

What age do you start spot probing?
What age do you do a full perio chart?
Do you believe probing introduces harmful bacteria into the sulcus?



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3 Answers

Due to the fragility of the periodontal ligament in an erupting tooth, I begin doing a full perio chart on patients 16-18. The deciding factor for me is homecare, plaque/calc amounts, health of gingiva (if gingivitis or even perio is present probing is indicated), etc. Of course this is all dependent on the patient, not a “cookie cutter” protocol. I perio chart every patient 18 and older once per year, sometimes twice per year if they are perio maint. I try not to only spot spot probe because of one patient situation I encountered. The patient had impeccable homecare, who alternated with the periodontist and general dentist for cleaning every three months, but due to severe clinching I found a 9 mm pocket (no bleeding present). The rest of her readings were 1-3 mm. If I had only spot probed I would have missed it! Big lesson for me! I don’t think probing introduces harmful bacteria into the sulcus any more than scaling does. Others may not agree!

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I agree with KaraRDH. Would like to add that brushing and floss introduces bacteria into the sulcus. Probing is an important step of our daily process.

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As mentioned probing isn’t cookie cutter, we recently had a 15 year old girl in our office who had all but her 3rds come for a new pt exam radiographs (bwx’s & pano) reveal generalized bone loss and radiographic calc. The hygienist decided to probe revealing mostly 5mm pockets. In situations like these yes I would start probing before the age of 18. A full perio chart in this situation is a good tool to educate both the teen and especially the parents.

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