OBJECTIVES: A cross-sectional national survey to explore perceptions of dental fluorosis and to determine the proportion of people regarding fluorosis as aesthetically objectionable at differing levels of defect.
METHODS: A survey using a multistage stratified random probability sample of 6,000 UK adult households. Face-to-face interviews were carried out using a structured questionnaire and photographs of different levels of dental fluorosis. Respondents were interviewed about the parameters of satisfaction, attractiveness and need for treatment for dental fluorosis.
RESULTS: The proportion of respondents perceiving teeth as unattractive, unsatisfactory and requiring treatment increased with increasing severity of dental fluorosis. Using agreement between the three negative perceptions as a measure, 14% of the sample perceived mild dental fluorosis as aesthetically objectionable, 45% at moderate level and 91% at severe levels.
CONCLUSION: Negative perceptions of dental fluorosis were lower than reported previously. Three parameters were included in the approach to estimate aesthetically objectionable fluorosis which may provide a more realistic measure than those used previously. The nature of the index and the sample included suggest that findings of this survey provide a reasonable indicator of the likely impact of water fluoridation. Findings may have important implications for fluoridation policies in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.