Background. Hardly any data are available concerning the chief complaints, or CCs, of patients with periodontitis. The authors conducted a study to determine the most common CCs among a group of subjects with periodontitis. Methods. The authors examined the dental records of 191 patients with periodontitis to determine what CCs they orally reported having at an initial examination. Patients were referred mainly by other members of the dental health team. Eighty percent of the patients were diagnosed with moderate or moderate-to-severe periodontitis. The authors recorded the frequency of different CCs to determine the most common complaints. Results. The authors recorded 336 CCs from the records of 191 subjects with periodontitis. There were 21 different CCs. The most common CC reported was, "I was told I have gum disease." The second most common CC reported was, "I would like to save my teeth." Neither of these CCs are true periodontitis symptoms. Bleeding gums - a true periodontitis symptom - was the third most common CC. Only 6.2 percent of the subjects reported having painful gingiva, and only 29.3 percent of the subjects reported having dental-emergency-related CCs. Conclusions. The authors found that the motivation to seek periodontal treatment was most commonly based on information given to the subjects by a member of the dental health team, rather than a periodontitis symptom. Clinical Implications. Renewed efforts and increased responsibility of the dental health team members to inform patients about the presence of periodontitis are needed, as well as emphasizing to the public the risk of losing teeth as a resuit of periodontitis.
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