Aim: Pocket depth measurements are the main criteria for diagnosing and assessing periodontal disease progression and for the referral of patients to a periodontist. The aim of this study was to assess the inter-examiner variances of pocket depth measurements between two periodontists, an orthodontist, an oral surgeon and an endodontist.
Study design: A total of 316 sites in 15 patients with aggressive periodontitis were measured by two periodontists, one orthodontist, one oral surgeon and one endodontist. Inter-examiner variations were analysed by the Spearman correlation test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, intra-class correlation and limits of agreement.
Results: The results of this study show that the pocket depth measurements of dentists from other specialties were always lower compared with the periodontists (p < 0.0001). The inter-examiner reliability analysis revealed that the oral surgeon had acceptable-excellent correlation compared with the periodontists, while the endodontist and the orthodontist had acceptable-moderate correlation. The limits of agreement analysis showed that 40%, 30% and 20% of the measurements of the surgeon, endodontist and orthodontist respectively were the same as those of the periodontists.
Conclusions: The results of this study emphasise the importance of the development of a probe design, either automated or manual, with constant force, and a guidance system to ensure proper angulations. Only then will the dentists be able to perform accurate probing to diagnose and differentiate certain situations, which will subsequently help them to perform appropriate treatment or to refer on time.
Keywords: endodontic-periodontal lesions, inter-examiner differentiation, periodontal pocket depth, probing