The Florida Probe – measuring gum disease
Computerised Measurement of depth of Gum disease
“If you can measure it, you can monitor it, if you can monitor it you can manage it”
The Florida probe is a computerised system for measuring the existing condition of gum attachment to the root of a tooth. This assessment is called a “Comprehensive Periodontal examination” (CPE).
Gum disease is the most common disease process in the modern world and causes the loss of more teeth than any other dental condition.
Gum disease progresses with almost no sign; the teeth can look and feel healthy. Generally, it progresses slowly at first until in the final stages when tooth loss can be rapid.
If identified early treatment is simple, involving a program of hygiene and professional cleaning. Every attempt is made to instruct an individual in how to maintain teeth and gums at home which if successful can eliminate disease and so reduce visits to the dentist.
If left undetected and untreated the usual outcome is tooth loss or much more complex treatment which could have been avoided.
The Florida probe allows us to quickly and accurately measure any gum detachment, so allowing us to focus treatment and cleaning at significant disease sites. Then we periodically re-measure the gums to see if the treatments are working allowing us to respond with more or less treatment.
This means you get appropriate treatment at the right time for you as an individual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q – Why use a computerised probe?
A – It is true the gum attachment can be measured manually, however this means that the operator has to estimate a gentle 15g pressure on a manual probe and then count the number of millimetre lines that disappear below gum level. This can be prone to human error, which the computerised probe helps eliminate.
Q – Does everybody need to have this Florida probe assessment?
A – Only individuals that have persistent or advanced gum detachment as identified by a Basic Periodontal Examination (BPE) should have the more detailed comprehensive examination.
Q – What is a Basic Periodontal Examination (BPE)?
A – This is a simple screening assessment that is normally carried out at every dental examination appointment. It identifies when there is an abnormal detachment of the gums regionally in the mouth, not tooth by tooth. Any score of BPE Code 3 that persists over several examinations should have the detailed Florida Probe assessment. A score of BPE Code 4 indicates advanced disease and so requires assessment and treatment to try to prevent tooth loss.
Q – Can I have gum treatment just using the BPE?
A – Whilst we can treat the early stages of gum disease without a detailed assessment (BPE Codes,1 & 2), this is of little value once the disease has progressed to a persistent BPE Code 3 or Code 4. Without a comprehensive assessment disease progression on individual teeth cannot be established in time to give the appropriate treatment, which in turn can lead to tooth loss.
Q – Is it more expensive to use the Florida Probe?
A – No, the costs are the same as a manual assessment as there are time-savings with the computerised system. It should be stressed that the whole point of this assessment is to identify problematic teeth early, hopefully well before complex and more expensive treatments are required, which in turn saves time and money overall.
Q – What if I choose tooth loss?
A – This is a treatment option that will be discussed with you if advanced disease exists. However please remember that you only need to loose 2-3 teeth on one side of your mouth or at the front to not be able to chew or smile. Also, gum disease tends to destroy supporting bone around a tooth and its neighbours so meaning that Implants or bridgework may not be possible to replace a tooth. The only other alternative then is a removable denture that over a quarter of people find difficult to wear no matter how well made.
This practice encourages the maintenance of healthy teeth with the minimum of treatment.