Factors influencing the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease by dental practitioners in Victoria

I B Darby, F Angkasa, C Duong, D Ho, S Legudi, K Pham, A Welsh
Australian Dental Journal 2005, 50 (1): 37-41

BACKGROUND: Healthy periodontal tissues are essential to overall dental health. Therefore, the detection and management of periodontal disease is an integral part of general dental practice. The aim of this study was to investigate confidence in diagnosis and management of periodontal disease by general dental practitioners (GDPs), assess if the Dental Practice Board guidelines on periodontal record keeping are being addressed, and, if necessary, try to find ways of improving the periodontal knowledge of GDPs.

METHODS: A survey assessing practitioner confidence in diagnosing and treating periodontal disease was sent to a random selection of 550 dental care providers registered with the Dental Practice Board of Victoria.

RESULTS: Two hundred and eighty five (51.8 per cent) of questionnaires were returned completed. It was found that 79.7 per cent of the sampled population screened all new patients for periodontal disease. The majority of respondents felt confident to diagnose and treat gingivitis and initial periodontitis. However, only 61.9 per cent felt confident to diagnose aggressive/early onset periodontitis, and many were not confident in treating advanced periodontitis (36.3 per cent) or aggressive periodontitis (51.6 per cent). The majority of dentists reported that they provided most of the non surgical periodontal therapy to their patients, while most surgical treatments were referred to specialist periodontists. Factors deemed to be important in influencing the decision to provide periodontal treatment included level of training and ability to motivate patients to improve oral hygiene. Many responents requested periodontic continuing education (CE) courses be run.

CONCLUSIONS: Most of the dentists surveyed were confident to diagnose periodontal disease and to treat the more common presentations of periodontal disease. There is some evidence to suggest that some practitioners are not following the minimum requirements set by the Dental Practice Board of Victoria in relation to periodontal record keeping. The results also indicate a need for more periodontic CE courses in Victoria.

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