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Research team investigates new approach to assessing dental bone loss

Aug 9, 2021
5 min Read
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A Creighton University research team is looking to improve the way dentists assess whether molars have suffered bone loss between their roots. The degree of loss has implications not just for providing patients with short- and long-term prognoses for the tooth, but also for assessing whether such teeth should anchor a bridge or a partial denture.

Sonia Rocha-Sanchez, PhD, dean of research at the Creighton University School of Dentistry and a member of the research team, says periodontal literature shows that dental professionals accurately assess bone loss between the roots — what they term “furcation” — just 50% of the time.

“Eliminating the current inaccuracy associated with clinical furcation detection would result in more accurate data collection, more predictable treatment for patients and improved education of dental students,” she says.

A periodontal probe – the measuring instrument with which dentists investigate the specialized tissue that supports and surrounds teeth — does not provide reliable information about bone loss in between the roots of molars, Sanchez says, so her research team is looking in another direction.

“Our project is focused on finding a correlation between the entrance into the furcation and the distance from a predictably identifiable fixed point on the tooth to develop a reliable model to help providers to draw a more accurate prognosis for the tooth,” she says.

In addition to Rocha-Sanchez, the research team includes Laura Brown, DDS, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Periodontics; Najmeh Ganji, DMD, assistant professor of periodontics; and Niranzena Panneer Selvam, MDS, assistant professor of diagnostic sciences, all at the Creighton University School of Dentistry.