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Is Peri-Implant Probing Causing Over-Diagnosis and Over-Treatment of Dental Implants?

Journal article
Authors P. Coli
Lars Sennerby
Published in Journal of Clinical Medicine
Volume 8
Issue 8
ISSN 2077-0383
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Odontology, Section 1
Language en
Keywords dental implants, mucositis, peri-implantitis, diagnosis, over-treatment, iatrogenic damage, progressive bone loss, term-follow-up, tissue-reactions, single, implants, titanium, diseases, inflammation, healthy, level, teeth, General & Internal Medicine
Subject categories Dentistry


Pocket probing depth (PPD) and bleeding on probing (BOP) measurements are useful indices for the assessment of periodontal conditions. The same periodontal indices are commonly recommended to evaluate the dental implant/tissue interface to identify sites with mucositis and peri-implantitis, which, if not treated, are anticipated to lead to implant failure. The aim of the present narrative review is to discuss the available literature on the effectiveness of probing at dental implants for identification of peri-implant pathology. There is substantial clinical evidence that PPD and BOP measurements are very poor indices of peri-implant tissue conditions and are questionable surrogate endpoints for implant failure. On the contrary, the literature suggests that frequent disturbance of the soft tissue barrier at implants may instead induce inflammation and bone resorption. Moreover, over-diagnosis and subsequent unnecessary treatment may lead to iatrogenic damage to the implant-tissue interface. Despite this, the recommendations from recent consensus meetings are still promoting the use of probing at dental implants. For evaluation of implants, for instance at annual check-ups, the present authors recommend a clinical examination that includes (i) a visual inspection of the peri-implant tissues for the assessment of oral hygiene and the detection of potential redness, swelling, (ii) palpation of the peri-implant tissues for assessment of the potential presence of swelling, bleeding, suppuration. In addition, (iii) radiography is recommended for the assessment of crestal bone level for comparison with previous radiographs to evaluate potential progressive bone loss even if there is a need for more scientific evidence of the true value of the first two clinical testing modes.

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