Background: The TPS Hunter periodontal probe design has disposable, pressure-sensitive probe heads and claims to meet established standards for a precise probing tool.
Aims: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the actual probing pressures. Furthermore, the influence of material fatigue as well as of erroneous mounting of the probe head on the probing force and pressure is investigated.
Method: Fifty TPS probe heads were analysed in vitro by loading the probe against a precision balance until two force indicator lines on the probe coincided. The resulting probing force was recorded at the time of the first loading and after 30 seconds of cyclic loadings. Dividing the probing force by the measured normal contact area of the probe tip yielded the true probing pressure. Probe heads were mounted on the handle either as recommended by the manufacturer or forcefully to the deepest possible position.
Results: The mean probing force for initial loading was 0.273 N. When accounting for the contact area the mean probing pressure was 148.6 N/cm2. Forceful mounting of the probe head significantly reduced the mean probing force to 0.193 N (p<0.0003) and the mean probing pressure to 105.3 N/cm2 (p<0.0003). Oscillating loading did not largely alter the observed probing force or probing pressure.
Conclusions: The Hunter TPS periodontal probe meets established clinical standards. However, only a forceful mounting of the probe head into the handle resulted in a mean probing force close to approximately 0.2 N, as suggested by the manufacturer.
Keywords: probing pressure, periodontal, probing, probe, probing force