The dental probe, also called the periodontal probe, comprises of a handle, a distal part or portion, and a measuring needle. The shape of a periodontal probe is a long and thin bodied instrument with blunted ends. A measuring needle is used to explore the gum pockets. The needle has at least one measure gradation. The instrument has a flexible end that can go around corners in tortuous blind pockets. With this, the dentist can examine the full depth of the periodontal pockets. A dental probe can also be used to find hole in the dental enamel. The measuring needle can find whether there is any tartar or other foreign bodies present in the pocket.
The dentist uses the dental probe to measure the periodontal sulcus’ depth. When a person has gingivitis, the periodontal probe shows higher depth because the gums are swollen and are enlarged due to the inflammation of the gum tissues. On probing, there is bleeding from the gums. When a person has periodontal disease, the periodontal gums give even higher readings, because along with the swelling of the gums, there is also a loss of surrounding bone material.
Bleeding on probing, also known as BOP, is a sure sign of an inflammation present, and indicates some pathology in the lining of the gingival sulcus. A periodontal chart, a sort of topographical mapping of the patient’s gum tissues, is created with the help of the periodontal probe and it can measure the extent of the disorder present in the tissues surrounding the teeth. This chart can also be used to note the progress made along the treatment. A probing with the help of the periodontal probe indicates the state of health of the periodontium.