Visual SRP: Using dental endoscopes to reduce the need for pocket reduction surgery Austin, TX

Visual SRP: Using dental endoscopes to reduce the need for pocket reduction surgery


The name of the game with periodontal disease is cleaning root surfaces below the gum line so that the body can heal itself. Unfortunately, scaling and root planing (SRP) becomes more challenging the deeper the probing depths. At 5 mm, we are only 40-50% effective and that rate goes down drastically every millimeter beyond that simply because SRP is a “blind procedure” and we can’t see what we are doing. However, even at 40-50% effectiveness, SRP is often effective enough for the body to regenerate and heal itself. If SRP is successful, the patient can move on to the maintenance phase of periodontal treatment, where quarterly hygiene appointments, along with good home care, can keep periodontal disease at bay for life.

Unfortunately, for those patients whose periodontal disease does not improve after SRP, then the next step is osseous (pocket reduction) surgery. While this has been the standard of care for many years, it is expensive, painful, and can result in “black triangles” between a patient’s teeth. These aren’t ideal outcomes but are the trade-offs made in order to stabilize a patient’s periodontal disease.

What if we could see below the gum line and remove 100% of the calculus build-up on the root surface? The effectiveness would dramatically improve, and the need for osseous surgery would decrease. Any patient would be happy to avoid surgery and save money! The great news is that is now possible with the OraVu® dental endoscope, which we have recently introduced into our practice, the first of its kind in Austin.

Endoscopes have been used in the medical field for many years, and a dental endoscope works on the same principles. A tiny camera attached to a probe is used in conjunction with SRP to enable our hygienist, Kathleen, to see deep into the gingival pocket without flap surgery thereby giving “sight” to an otherwise blind procedure. Kathleen can now visually see the calculus enabling her to completely clean the root surface. We are excited to be able to offer “Visual SRP” for patients. 

Dental endoscopy can also be used as a diagnostic tool to see root fractures, subgingival caries, open margins, overhang restorations, and residual cement on implants.

We are excited to have the OraVu dental endoscope in our practice. Moving forward, all SRPs completed at Council Oak Perio will be “Visual SRPs.” We are grateful for advances in technology that enable less invasive and lower-cost treatment options for our patients.

Dr. Christopher M. Bingham