Why Patients Visit Dentists - A Study in all World Health Organization Regions
OBJECTIVE: The dimensions of oral health-related quality of life (OHRQoL) Oral Function, Orofacial Pain, Orofacial Appearance, and Psychosocial Impact are the major areas where patients are impacted by oral diseases and dental interventions. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether dental patients' reasons to visit the dentist fit the 4 OHRQoL dimensions.
METHODS: Dentists (N = 1580) from 32 countries participated in a web-based survey. For their patients with current oral health problems, dentists were asked whether these problems were related to teeth, mouth, and jaws' function, pain, appearance, or psychosocial impact or whether they do not fit the aforementioned 4 categories. Dentists were also asked about their patients who intended to prevent future oral health problems. For both patient groups, the proportions of oral health problems falling into the 4 OHRQoL dimensions were calculated.
RESULTS: For every 100 dental patients with current oral health problems, 96 had problems related to teeth, mouth, and jaws' function, pain, appearance, or psychosocial impact. For every 100 dental patients who wanted to prevent future oral health problems, 92 wanted to prevent problems related to these 4 OHRQoL dimensions. Both numbers increased to at least 98 of 100 patients when experts analyzed dentists' explanations of why some oral health problems would not fit the four dimension. For the remaining 2 of 100 patients, none of the dentist-provided explanations suggested evidence against the OHRQoL dimensions as the concepts that capture dental patients' suffering.
CONCLUSION: Oral Function, Orofacial Pain, Orofacial Appearance, and Psychosocial Impact capture dental patients' oral health problems worldwide. These 4 OHRQoL dimensions offer a psychometrically sound and practical framework for patient care and research, identifying what is important to dental patients.
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