Self-reporting of periodontal health status

Br Dent J. 1999 Mar 13;186(5):241-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800075.


Objective: The objective was to develop a self-reporting questionnaire for use as an epidemiological measure of periodontal status.

Design: Oral survey.

Subjects and methods: 100 (out of 102 who were approached) non-referred patients attending Dundee Dental Hospital and School agreed to complete a questionnaire concerning factors related to periodontal disease and then undergo a standardised periodontal examination in which four indicators were measured: the percentage of sites with plaque, the percentage of sites which showed bleeding on probing, tooth mobility and Community Index of Periodontal Treatment Needs scores.

Main outcome measure: Sensitivity and specificity of questionnaire items to predict clinically measured periodontal disease indicators. Acceptable levels for sensitivity and specificity are largely dependent on the context of the test being evaluated, and many tests currently used in dentistry have very low sensitivity or specificity values. Nevertheless, in this case it was felt that any items which had a sensitivity and specificity greater than 0.80 would be reasonable predictors.

Results: Only four items were weakly predictive of the periodontal status indicators (sensitivity and specificity > 0.5). These concerned noticing gaps between teeth getting bigger, noticing tooth roots becoming more visible, experiencing pain when consuming hot, cold or sweet things and smoking. Other items, concerned with whether a dentist had told the patient they had periodontal disease or whether the person was aware of being treated for it, had very low sensitivities suggesting that people with periodontal disease indicators are failing to be informed of, or treated for it, by their dentist.

Conclusions: Self-reporting of periodontal health was not successful as many people who had some indications of the periodontal diseases appeared to be unaware of their condition and also appeared not to have been informed nor were being treated for it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Dental Plaque / diagnosis
  • Dentin Sensitivity / diagnosis
  • Diastema / pathology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Gingival Recession / diagnosis
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Periodontal Diseases / psychology*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Scotland
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tooth Mobility / diagnosis
  • Tooth Root / pathology