Objectives: To assess the content validity of traditional oral health status scales as measures of oral health related quality of life (OHQOL), based on a general public's perception of the most important ways in which oral health affects quality of life (QoL).
Methods: A nationwide United Kingdom study involving a random probability sample of 1778 adults. Data were collected by face-to-face interviews in participants homes.
Results: Most 75% (1332) perceived oral health as being important to QoL. Among them, 53% (699/1332) identified oral health's importance to QoL as being in a positive manner. Existing scales predominantly fail to include this dimension. The general public ranked oral health's importance to QoL through a range of physical, social and psychological domains. Most frequently though affecting eating or comfort; domains considered by all instruments. Other domains/ways are presented. It is apparent that even when some of the multidomain scales are employed, they frequently omit items that the public perceives as being most important to QoL.
Conclusion: The study raises concerns about the appropriateness of utilising many of the existing oral health status scales as measures of OHQOL because the concepts do not appear to be interchangeable.