Accurate determination of bone loss at the molar furcation region by clinical detection and intraoral radiograph is challenging in many instances. Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) is expected to open a new horizon in periodontal assessment. The purpose of this study was to compare and correlate accuracy of molar furcation assessment via clinical detection, intraoral radiography and CBCT images.
Eighty-three patients with chronic periodontitis who had existing CBCT scans were included. Furcation involvement was assessed on maxillary and mandibular first molars. Periodontal charts (modified Glickman’s classification), intraoral (periapical and/or bitewing) radiographs (recorded as presence or absence) and axial CBCT reconstructions were used to evaluate furcation involvement on buccal and palatal/lingual sites. The correlation of furcation assessment by the three methods was evaluated by Pearson analysis.
There were significant correlations (p < 0.05) between clinical detection and intraoral radiography, clinical detection and CBCT, as well as intraoral radiography and CBCT at all the measured sites (r values range between 0.230 to 0.644). CBCT generally exhibited higher correlation with clinical detection relative to intraoral radiography, especially at distal palatal side of maxillary first molar (p < 0.05). In addition, CBCT provided more accurate assessment, with bone loss measurement up to 2 decimals in millimeters, whereas clinical detection had 3 classes and the intraoral radiographs usually only detected the presence of furcation involvement in Glickman Class 2 and 3.
This study validates that CBCT is a valuable tool in molar furcation assessment in addition to clinical detection and intraoral radiography.