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Gen Dent. 2009 Sep-Oct;57(5):504-9.

Prevalence of oral lesions in the dental office.

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  • 1Department of Community Dentistry, Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, Cleveland, OH, USA.


Comprehensive head and neck examinations provide the best opportunity to carefully evaluate the oral cavity for the presence of disease. For this study, 40 dental professionals in 20 dental offices in Northern Ohio received a three-hour standardization course on oral pathology, performed head and neck examinations on all adult patients over a three-week period, and recorded the presumptive identification of all observed oral lesions. Lesion-positive and lesion-negative patients were compared on patient age, gender, tobacco usage, denture status, and the type of provider (dentist or hygienist) making the observations. Providers performed head and neck examinations on 3,182 adults, 847 (26.7%) of whom had 1,073 lesions. Lesion-positive and negative patients were similar in terms of age and gender, although patients with lesions were almost twice as likely to use tobacco and more than 2.5 times as likely to wear dentures. Most lesions were classified as white (36.6%), followed by red (17%), ulcerated (14%), pigmented (14%), and soft tissue enlargements (12%). Leukoplakia and erythroplakia were observed in 1% of the screened adults, although patients were not aware of the presence of these conditions. Overall, the prevalence of lesions in dental patients (26.7%) was similar to national estimates (27.9%), but the prevalence of some specific lesions varied.

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