Direct, real-time visualization of the hard and soft tissues within the gingival sulcus may aid the clinician in diagnosis and therapy of periodontal disease. This report describes an endoscope specifically designed for this purpose and the interpretation of dental endoscopic images. Medical endoscope technology was modified for application in the dental environment. A fixed, fused fiber optic bundle, less than 1 millimeter in diameter, was coupled to an active matrix LCD-TFT flat panel video monitor for viewing by the clinician. A bilumen sheath was designed to provide irrigation of the sulcus and a sterile barrier between the patient and the fiber bundle. Standard dental curets and ultrasonic scalers were adapted for instrumentation aided by the endoscope. Endoscope technology has been successfully adapted for use in periodontal diagnosis and therapy. Techniques for identification and interpretation of the hard and soft tissue images, as well as the location of root deposits and caries, have been developed. The dental endoscope gives the clinician direct, real-time visualization and magnification of the subgingival tooth root surface, aiding in the location of deposits on the tooth root. The subgingival soft tissue, including the gingival attachment, sulcus wall, and sulcus contents, can be assessed. Identification and location of subgingival caries, root fractures, tooth root deposits, post perforations, and open restoration margins may aid the clinician in diagnosis and therapy.

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