Background and Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the defect width of infrabony defects in a cross-sectional study and to evaluate whether the defect width is a function of defect depth.
Material and Methods: Complete sets of intra-oral radiographs of patients with severe periodontitis, which exhibited at least one infrabony defect, were digitised and evaluated. The following parameters were measured: depth and width of the infrabony defect, defect angle, and width of the interdental spaces.
Results: Fifty-one patients (26 women), ranging from 21 to 73 yr of age (48.5 ± 13.4 yr), contributed a total of 1272 teeth with 135 infrabony defects (10.6%). Seventeen infrabony defects were located at sites without a neighboring tooth. Infrabony defects were statistically more prevalent in the mandible (n = 82) than in the maxilla (p = 0.013), and more prevalent at mesial sites (n = 92) than at distal sites (p < 0.001). At infrabony defects, the width of interdental spaces at the most coronal extension of the alveolar crest could be measured only at sites with neigboring teeth 2.67 ± 0.78 mm (range: 1.19–5.70 mm). Analysis failed to reveal a statistically significant difference between defect width at sites with (2.64 ± 0.82 mm) and sites without (2.76 ± 0.70 mm) a neighboring tooth. Multilevel regression analysis revealed narrow defect angles to be related to deep infrabony defects, whereas width of the interdental space and distal location were related to wide defects.
Conclusion: Defect angle depended on defect depth and defect width was not different at sites with or without a neighboring tooth. Even in severe periodontitis, infrabony defects are found only at a minority of teeth.