The aims of this study were to determine; 1) the degree of pain experienced by patients during probing and debridement; 2) if the treating hygienists could estimate the degree of pain experienced by the patients; and 3) if the patients' pain responses could be predicted by factors such as the patients' age, gender, number of residual periodontal lesions, and the patients' answers to a questionnaire on dental anxiety.

Prior to the maintenance procedures, 2 groups of 20 adult patients to be treated by 2 hygienists completed an anxiety questionnaire. Subsequently, measurements of probing depths were performed, followed by pain ratings by each patient using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS). The hygienists also completed a VAS, estimating the pain level they perceived their patient experienced. The same protocol was repeated for instrumentation (debridement).

The results were as follows: 1) Most patients showed low pain responses to both probing and instrumentation. However, using an arbitrary threshold of VAS >40 mm, 20- 33% of the patients had a significant pain experience. 2) The hygienists were quite accurate in their relative estimates of their patients' pain experiences. 3) Regression analyses disclosed that significant portions of the pain responses could be predicted by the patients' answers to one of the dental anxiety questions.

In conclusions, recognition of patients that are likely to experience significant pain during periodontal treatment may be facilitated by the use of one question on dental anxiety. During treatment, the ability to gauge and respond to patients' pain experiences would seem to be an important component of the clinical skills of a therapist.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Gary Bogle

Second Advisor

Max Crigger

Third Advisor

Robert Kiger

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Dentistry; Facial Pain -- therapy; Dental Hygienists; Pain



Page Count

ix; 24

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives