An example of measurement and reporting of periodontal loss of attachment (LOA) in epidemiological studies: smoking and periodontal tissue destruction.N Z Dent J. 1999 Dec; 95(422):118-23.NZ
The measurement and reporting of periodontal disease in epidemiological studies can be complex, with the common indices having well-recognised shortcomings. The aim of this study was to illustrate the use of the periodontal loss of attachment (LOA) approach in investigating the association between cigarette smoking and loss of periodontal attachment in a convenience sample of adults, in order to determine whether or not smoking was a risk indicator for periodontal disease. All participants were given a detailed periodontal clinical examination in two randomly assigned contralateral diagonal quadrants, with LOA measurements made at six sites per tooth. Information was also collected on participants' socio-demographic characteristics, oral hygiene practices, smoking history, and attitudes towards smoking. The 240 participants examined comprised 81 current smokers (CS), 79 former smokers (FS) and 80 nonsmokers (NS). Substantial differences and a gradient in disease existed for LOA among the three groups. CS exhibited the greatest (and NS the least) prevalence, extent, and severity of LOA. CS had more plaque and calculus than either of the other two groups, but the groups did not differ with respect to bleeding on probing. Overall, smoking was associated with the disease outcome, and this persisted after potential confounders were controlled using multivariate analysis. Although the observed differences may have been due to the self-selected nature of the sample, the gradient evident across the three smoking exposure groups suggests that smoking cessation can slow the progression of the disease. The LOA approach appears to be a versatile and informative method for recording, analysing, and presenting data on periodontitis in epidemiological studies.