Ability to estimate oral health status and treatment need in elderly receiving home nursing--a comparison between a dental hygienist and a dentist

Swed Dent J. 2000;24(3):105-16.


The aim of this study was to compare the estimation ability of a dental hygienist to that of a dentist when, independently, recording the oral health status and treatment need in a population of elderly, receiving home nursing. Seventy-three persons, enrolled in a home nursing long-time care programme, were recruited. For the oral examination a newly developed protocol with comparatively blunt measurement variables was used. The oral examination protocol was tested for construct validity and for internal consistency reliability. Statistical analyses were performed using Wilcoxon matched pairs signed rank sum test for testing differences, while inter-examiner agreement was estimated by calculating the kappa-values. Comparing the two examiners, good agreement was demonstrated for all mucosal recordings, colour, form, wounds, blisters, mucosal index, and for the palatal but not the lingual mucosa. For the latter, the dental hygienist recorded significantly more changes. The dental hygienist also recorded significantly higher plaque index values. Also regarding treatment intention and treatment need, the dental hygienist's estimation was somewhat higher. In conclusion, when comparing the dental hygienist's and the dentist's ability to estimate oral health status, treatment intention, and treatment need, some differences were observed, the dental hygienist tending to register "on the safe side", calling attention to the importance of inter-examiner calibration. However, for practical purpose the inter-examiner agreement was acceptable, constituting a promising basis for future out-reach activities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Dental Care for Aged / methods*
  • Dental Care for Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Hygienists* / statistics & numerical data
  • Dentists* / statistics & numerical data
  • Diagnosis, Oral / methods
  • Diagnosis, Oral / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Needs and Demand* / statistics & numerical data
  • Home Care Services* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Observer Variation
  • Oral Health*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Sweden