Periodontal screening and referral behaviour of general dental practitioners in Flanders

E Meers, C Dekeyser, C Favril, W Teughels, M Quirynen, Isabelle Laleman
Clinical Oral Investigations 2018, 22 (3): 1167-1173

OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to investigate the screening and referral behaviour of Flemish dentists concerning periodontitis and more specific, the use of the Dutch Periodontal Screening Index (DPSI).

MATERIALS AND METHODS: An online questionnaire was electronically distributed through the different professional dental societies. It consisted of two parts: the first aimed at describing the profile of the dentist. The second part inquired the screening method, when this was applied, periodontal risk factors and referral behaviour.

RESULTS: One thousand fifty dentists attended to the questionnaire. One hundred fifty-nine questionnaires were excluded since they did not match the target audience. Sixty-four percent of Flemish dentists used DPSI as a periodontal screening method, 28% screened based on probing pocket depth, 4% used solely radiographs and 4% had no screening method at all. The usage of DPSI is influenced by the year of graduation: the longer the dentists were graduated, the less they used DPSI. No influence of sex, education centre and location was found. Referral behaviour is influenced by different patient- and dentist-related factors.

CONCLUSIONS: Regarding the screening behaviour, there seems a consensus among Flemish dentists that a periodontal probe should be used. For referral, there is no consensus about if and when to refer to a specialist.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: It is encouraging that 92% of the Flemish general dental practitioners use a probe when screening for periodontitis. However, DPSI is mainly used by younger dentists. An effort should be made to encourage all dentists to use this, so that in every patient, periodontitis can be detected timely, securing the best treatment outcome.

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