Self-Report Questions May Help Predict Periodontitis

The use of self-report questions may help predict the prevalence of periodontitis in US adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). A clinical research report recently published in the Journal of Dental Research found that self-reported measures performed well in forecasting periodontitis in a representative sample of the US adult population.

The study utilized eight questions developed by the CDC and AAP that address gum health and treatment history, loose teeth, bone loss around teeth, teeth not “looking right”, and use of dental floss and mouthwash. Responses were obtained during the in-home interview component of the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Response rates were very high, at greater than 95 percent, suggesting that adults responded well to the questions in the survey.

Researchers then compared the self-report data against clinically classified periodontitis assessed during the Full Mouth Periodontal Examination (FMPE) Protocol used in the 2009-2010 NHANES to gauge predictive performance. Statistical analysis indicated that the self-report data on gum health and treatment, bone loss and use of dental floss was found to be effective in predicting periodontitis prevalence.

“Over half of US adults have some form of periodontal disease, which makes periodontitis a significant public health issue. The ability to conduct valid and reliable periodontal disease research that demands fewer resources allows us to better understand community-specific disease trends and essentially provide better, more personalized treatment for patients,” explains Stuart J. Froum, DDS, President of the American Academy of Periodontology and Director of Clinical Research in the Department of Periodontics and Implant Dentistry at New York University Dental Center.

The American Academy of Periodontology supports the study’s findings that while clinical data remain the preferred measure for surveillance of periodontitis, self-reported measures offer an effective alternative for expanding population-based public health research of periodontitis in the US adult population. Due to good performance and cost-effectiveness, the self-reported models provide a viable alternative to clinical periodontal measures in population surveys where the latter may be impractical or cost-prohibitive. In the future, existing interview-based surveys at the local, state and national levels can serve as platforms for self-report-based surveillance of periodontitis.

To view the study abstract, visit

About the American Academy of Periodontology:
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is the professional organization for periodontists – specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are also dentistry’s experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They receive three additional years of specialized training following dental school, and periodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. The AAP has 8,300 members world-wide.