Background: According to a recent study, the severity of periodontal disease of individuals referred for periodontal care is greater now than in 1980. Variability in the standard of periodontal care in general dental practices may result in less than desirable outcomes and consequences of poorer periodontal health.
Methods: A sample of 100 newly referred dental patients from three separate periodontal practices in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area participated in this study. Data were collected from three sources: 1) a clinical chart audit, 2) current periodontal disease status as determined by clinical examination, and 3) a patient response questionnaire on past professional care and personal oral care habits. Bivariate analyses were performed using a statistical package.
Results: Of the 100 subjects, 74 were diagnosed as periodontal case type IV at the point of referral, of which 29.8% were treatment planned by the periodontist for two or more extractions. Teeth treatment planned for extraction were significant as a function of disease severity (P = 0.0001). Periodontal treatment provided in general dental practices did not vary because of disease severity. The incidence of deep cleanings (scaling and root planing) was reported slightly higher (32.4%) for case type IV than for case type III (26.9%), but this difference was not statistically significant. The average number of cleanings received in the general dental office was less than the standard of care according to the severity of the disease.
Conclusion: If one assumes that the data obtained in the Kansas City practices are representative of a larger geographic area, it indicates that dentistry may be failing to address issues of the timely diagnosis of periodontal disease, appropriate treatment, and/or timely referral for treatment.