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Assessing periodontitis in populations: a systematic review of the validity of partial-mouth examination protocols


  • Conflict of interest and sources of funding statement

    The authors declare no conflict of interest. The study is partially supported by The NLM G08LM010075.



To estimate bias associated with partial-mouth periodontal examination (PMPE) protocols regarding estimates of prevalence, severity and extent of clinical attachment loss (CAL), pocket depth (PD) and gingival recession (REC).

Material and Methods

A search was made for articles published in English, from 1946 to 2012, which compared PMPE versus full-mouth periodontal examination protocols for CAL or PD ≥ 4 mm or REC ≥3 mm thresholds. PMPE protocols were evaluated for sensitivity of estimates of periodontitis prevalence, relative biases for severity and extent estimates.


A review of the literature identified 12 studies which reported 32 PMPE protocols. Three PMPE protocols which had sensitivities ≥85% and relative biases ≤0.05 in absolute values for severity and extent estimates were as follows: (1) half-mouth six-sites, (2) diagonal quadrants six-sites and (3) full-mouth mesiobuccal–midbuccal–distobuccal (MB–B–DB). Two other PMPE protocols (full-mouth and half-mouth mesiobuccal–midbuccal–distolingual) performed well for prevalence and severity of periodontitis; however, their performance in estimates of extent was unknown.


Among the 32 PMPE protocols listed, the half-mouth six-sites and full-mouth MB–B–DB protocols had the highest sensitivities for prevalence estimates and lowest relative biases for severity and extent estimates.