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Summary.  Aim.  The purpose of this study was to test the validity and reliability of an Arabic translation and adaptation of the child oral-health-related quality of life questionnaire (CPQ11−14) in Saudi Arabia.

Design.  The modified questionnaire included two global ratings (oral health and oral-health-related well-being), and a battery of 36 questions in four domains (oral symptoms, functional limitations, emotional well-being and social well-being). The study population consisted of 174, 11–14-year-old children (65% healthy and 35% medically compromised). Clinical data on caries status and malocclusion were collected for 138 of the children, and 47 completed the questionnaire a second time.

Results.  There was a significant difference in mean total scale scores between children with and without malocclusions (P < 0·05). Significant relationships were identified between caries status and oral symptoms subscale scores, and between malocclusion and total scale and social well-being subscale scores (P < 0·05). Correlation was highly significant between scale scores and global ratings (P < 0·01). Cronbach's alpha was 0·81 and the test–retest reliability was substantial (r = 0·65, P < 0·001). However, problems were encountered in Saudi Arabia regarding self-reporting of age, and the questionnaire was too long for many of the medically compromised patients.

Conclusions.  The questionnaire is valid and reliable for use in Saudi Arabia, although development of a shorter version is recommended.