Finding an upper limit of what might be achievable by patients: oral cleanliness in dental professionals after self-performed manual oral hygiene

Clin Oral Investig. 2018 Mar;22(2):839-846. doi: 10.1007/s00784-017-2160-9. Epub 2017 Jul 4.


Aims: Though patients have been shown to have difficulties in achieving oral cleanliness after self-performed oral hygiene, scientifically and empirically justified standards for the degree of oral cleanliness they should achieve are lacking. Oral cleanliness of dental staff was therefore assessed as an indicator of what might be an upper limit of what can be expected by patients.

Materials and methods: In a multicentre study, N = 64 university dentists, N = 33 dental students and N = 30 dental assistants were asked to perform manual oral hygiene to the best of their abilities. The presence or absence of dental plaque adjacent to gingival margins was assessed by the marginal plaque index (MPI). As full-crown index, the Turesky modification of the Quigley and Hein Index (QHIm) was applied.

Results: Only three participants showed papillary bleeding and only one a clinical pocket depth of more than 3.5 mm. After self-performed oral hygiene, no differences between groups were observed with respect to plaque nor did results differ between those who habitually used a powered toothbrush only and those who did not. Most participants (96%) achieved oral cleanliness at more than 70% of their gingival margins and QHIm levels below .63. Half of the participants showed QHIm levels below .17 and oral cleanliness at 96% of gingival margins.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Considering that half of the dental professionals achieved oral cleanliness at 96% of gingival margins and QHIm levels below .17 after thorough oral hygiene, this might reflect an upper limit of what can be expected by patients.

Keywords: Dental plaque; Dental staff; Oral health; Oral hygiene; Periodontal diseases; Prevention.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Dental Assistants*
  • Dental Prophylaxis / standards*
  • Dentists*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Hygiene / standards*
  • Self Care / standards*
  • Students, Dental*