Is there a problem with your probing technique?


I was on-site doing a private workshop for a new client recently and one of the hygienists (practicing for over 20 years) had a huge mindset shift on how to use the periodontal probe.

It wasn’t easy for her as the concepts I was teaching her went against what she was taught in school and what she has been doing all these years. It involved angling the probe into the interproximal (col) space and under the contact. 

As we talked, she mentioned that she’s always wondered why she would fall into deep defects in the interproximal while scaling but then she couldn’t confirm the depth with her probe. It was very frustrating.

Then there was the AHA moment…

She was probing only on the line angle. Her probe wasn’t reaching under the contact and that’s why she couldn’t get the same probing depths she was feeling with the scaler.

This shift in thinking took her WAY out of her comfort zone but she did it! And I am SO proud of her!

I want to give you two resources to share with your team on this topic. It’s somewhat ‘controversial’ so I want you to have some resources other than me. 🙂

1.  A super article Underestimation of Periodontal Disease written a few years ago by Trisha O’Hehir- speaker, educator, editor of Hygienetown magazine and founder of O’Hehir University.

2.  We use this image in our private workshops during the probing calibration exercise. This is from Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist, 9th edition by Esther Wilkins.

Notice how it illustrates crossing the long axis of the tooth and probing into the col space under the contact. If you do not tip the probe into the col space, accurate measurement of this area is not possible.


These are great tools to use at your next hygiene team meeting. Set aside some time for probing calibration and see what AHA moments you experience.

Stay Inspired,

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