Routine oral examination: differences in characteristics of Dutch general dental practitioners related to type of recall interval

Theodorus G Mettes, Josef J M Bruers, Wil J M van der Sanden, Emiel H Verdonschot, Jan Mulder, Richard P T M Grol, Alphons J M Plasschaert
Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 2005, 33 (3): 219-26

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to explore differences in behaviour (characteristics and opinions) among general dental practitioners (GDPs), using either a fixed (Fx) or an individualized recall interval (Iv) between successive routine oral examinations (ROEs).

METHODS: In the year 2000, data were collected by means of a written questionnaire sent to a random stratified sample of 610 dentists of whom 521 responded, of which 508 (83%) were used for analysis.

RESULTS: Two groups of GDPs were distinguished based on their answer to the question: 'Do you apply for all patients a fixed recall interval between two successive ROEs?' Fifty-one per cent of the GDPs (n=257) applied Fxs for all patients, generally for a period of 6 months. Ivs were applied by 49% (n=251) of GDPs, depending on the determination of specific patient characteristics. Logistic regression analysis showed that GDPs applying Fxs also used fixed periods between successive bitewing radiographs for all patients. Furthermore, dentists applying Ivs required more time to conduct an ROE, partly because of a more extensive periodontal screening. GDPs applying Fxs, adhered more to the opinion that a fixed recall regime (every 6 months, as existed before 1995) should be re-introduced, whereas the GDPs in support of Ivs were more in favour to support the opinion that the ROE is 'an excellent instrument for effective, individualized oral care'.

CONCLUSIONS: Dutch GDPs differ in the way they deal with the determination of recall interval frequency. These are also specific differences in performance and opinions regarding ROE. With the changing prevalence of oral diseases and the skewed distribution within populations, further research is advocated on consistent decision making to determine the most appropriate recall policy in preventing oral disease.


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