The aim of this cross-sectional study was to explore sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical factors associated with self-awareness of periodontal health. Data were collected from a representative sample of 736 adults (25-75 years old) in a city of Northern Italy who self-assessed gingival bleeding, oral malodor, and tooth mobility in a questionnaire and who underwent clinical periodontal examination and organoleptic evaluation. Approximately 50% of the subjects were aware of their actual gingival health status and oral odor. The logistic regression analysis revealed that females presented higher odds of correctly perceiving their gingival conditions and mouth odor, while those who were older and smokers had a greater probability of being less objective in reporting them. Tooth type and position in the dental arches were positively associated with self-perception of tooth mobility. These findings reflected a low level of self-awareness that may influence oral care-seeking behavior. Subjects may be unconcerned about their periodontal health condition or lack enough knowledge to be aware of it. This points to the need for planning strategies to improve education and knowledge about periodontal health, which, by enhancing self-perception of periodontal symptoms, could help everyone to seek treatment in the initial stage of the disease.
Keywords: cross-sectional study; gingival bleeding; oral malodor; periodontitis; self-perception; tooth mobility.