Evaluation of an Automated Digital Scoring System of Dental Plaque

Cindy L. Munro, Zhan Liang, Nnadozie Emechebe, Xugheng Chen, Paula L. Cairns, Priyashi Manani, Lucia Hamilton, Gwendolyn Good, Kevin Kip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Measurement of dental plaque is frequently used as an indicator of overall oral health. The purpose of this study was to compare a manual (visual) plaque scoring system (University of Mississippi Oral Hygiene Index, UM-OHI) with an innovative automated digital scoring system.Methods: Mechanically ventilated, intensive care unit (ICU) patients (n=79) were the study population. Informed consent was given by the subject's legally authorized representative. Digital images of dental plaque were taken using an intraoral camera; and the quantity of dental plaque was scored using the UM-OHI and with a digitized automated scoring system. Distributions of dental plaque scores from both methods were plotted. Pearson correlation coefficients and intra-class coefficients were calculated between the two methods.Results: Participant mean age was 57.3 years; respiratory failure was the most prevalent admission diagnosis (55.7%). The mean percentage of dental plaque calculated by the manual method was found to be remarkably higher (67.3% ± 18.7%) than the percentage of dental plaque calculated by the automated scoring method (23.7% ± 15.2%) (p<0.0001). Despite remarkably different distributions of plaque scores, both the automated and manual scoring systems demostrated relatively high correlation (r=0.62) and good reliability (ICC=0.63).Conclusion: The automated digital scoring system resulted in a significantly lower overall percentage of total dental plaque as compared to the UM-OHI manual scoring system. While the automated digital scoring system may be more precise than a manual (visual) scoring system, its use should be weighed against the added effort, cost, and expertise required for the method. Further study is needed to determine whether an automated digital scoring system can be commercialized and is warranted for use outside of research settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • dental plaque
  • healthcare acquired infections
  • oral hygiene
  • plaque indices
  • ventilated patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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