Purpose: To use and evaluate two methods for measuring gingival thickness (GT) at mandibular incisors of orthodontic patients and compare their performance in assessing periodontal anatomy through soft tissue thickness.
Keywords: cone-beam CT, gingival phenotype, periodontal tissue, ultrasound
Materials and Methods: The sample consisted of 40 consecutive adult orthodontic patients. GT was measured just before bracket placement at both central mandibular incisors, mid-facially on the buccal aspect, 2 mm apically to the free gingival margin with two methods: clinically with an ultrasound device (USD) and radiographically with cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT).
Results: CBCT measurements were consistently higher than USD measurements, with the difference ranging from 0.13 mm to 0.21 mm. No statistically significant difference was noted between the repeated CBCT measurements at the right central incisor (bias = 0.05 mm; 95% CI = -0.01, 0.11; p = 0.104). Although the respective results for the left incisor statistically indicated that the measurements were not exactly replicated, the magnitude of the point estimate was small and not clinically significant (bias = 0.06 mm; 95% CI = 0.01, 0.11; p = 0.014). Small differences between CBCT measurements made by the 2 examiners at the left central incisor (bias = 0.06 mm; 95% CI = 0.01, 0.11; p = 0.014) were detected. However, this difference was minor and also not clinically significant. The respective analysis on the right incisor showed no statistically significant difference (bias = 0.05 mm; 95% CI = -0.01, 0.11; p = 0.246).
Conclusions: Based on reproducibility, CBCT imaging for gingival thickness assessment proved to be as reliable as ultrasound determination. However, CBCT consistently yielded higher values, albeit at a marginal level, than did the ultrasound device.