For years I have been a little befuddled by how to discern patients who have a thin versus thick biotype. I find the shape of the gingival scallop and the tooth contour tend to lead me to thinking I have a biotype I don’t. I normally associate scalloped tissue and triangular teeth with a thin biotype and sqaure teeth with a flat gingival profile with a thick biotype. Although there is some correlation between tooth shape, gingival scallop and biotype it is not a one to one equation. Given the importance in assessing the patient’s biotype to gain a clear picture of the risk associated with anterior implant esthetics and the tissue response when doing anterior restorative dentistry I felt like i was missing something.
Recently while attending a lecture the concept was presented of using a metal perio probe and your ability to visualize it as a way to determine biotype. The assessment is very simple. Using a metal periodontal probe, place the probe tip into the gingival sulcus on the facial of an incisor tooth. If you can see the perio probe or the grey shadow of the probe through the tissues, the biotype is thin. If the probe is hidden by the tissue, the biotype is thick. If you are thinking “no way”, can’t be accurate or that’s way to simple, I thought the same thing when I heard it. With that in mind I went and pulled the research and low and behold found multiple studies that show a very clear correlation between this type of assessment and more complicated ways to assess the gingival tissues, as well as it’s strong correlation to actually measuring the thickness of the tissue.