Relatively little is known about the prevalence, severity, and determinants of clinical attachment loss among adolescents.
A multi-stage random sampling procedure was used to obtain a sample of 9,203 high school students aged 12 to 21 years from the Province of Santiago, Chile. All but 41 students were examined for clinical attachment loss in 6 sites of first and second molars and incisors. The students were interviewed with respect to tooth brushing habits, smoking habits, dental visits, and diabetic status. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the relative strength of the associations between age, gender, smoking, tooth brushing habits, dental attendance patterns, diabetic status, and governmental school support and the occurrence of clinical attachment loss.
Overall, clinical attachment loss > or = 1 mm was seen in 69.2% of the students; > or = 2 mm in 16% of the students; and > or = 3 mm in 4.5%. The distribution of clinical attachment loss was markedly skewed, but followed a continuum of disease severity. Logistic regression analyses showed that attachment loss was associated with higher age, female gender, infrequent tooth brushing, infrequent dental visits, and attending a high school receiving governmental support.
No sharp distinction exists between periodontal health and disease among Chilean adolescents. Higher age, poor oral hygiene, and a lower socioeconomic background play a role in the occurrence of clinical attachment loss.