AAP Statement on Periodontal Examinations for Initial Dental Licensure

This statement published in June 2008 reflects the AAP's views on the periodontal portion of the examination to assist licensing agents in evaluating new dentists.

As the professional association that sets the standards for periodontal care, the American Academy of Periodontology is concerned that all new dental licensees demonstrate competency in both didactic periodontal knowledge and basic non-surgical skills.

Clinical Patient-Based (Patient-Simulated) Examination

The weighting of the periodontal examination in relation to the other parts of a clinical examination is of concern to the Academy. Since the content of clinical examinations varies greatly among jurisdictions, it is difficult to assign a set percentage to the periodontal examination. Passing of the examination should be contingent on satisfactorily passing all components of the periodontal licensing examination. The Academy believes that a candidate must perform at a level of competency on each component of the examination and that an above-average score in one area should not compensate for failure in another.

Periodontics Section of the Clinical Licensure Examination

The Academy believes that as soon as the technology allows, the periodontal clinical examination should be replaced with either a manikin-based or a patient-simulated examination. The periodontics portion of the patient or patient-simulated examination should at minimum, include the following:

  1. Demonstration of the ability to accurately measure periodontal probing depths.
  2. Demonstration of the ability to accurately detect subgingival calculus.
  3. Demonstration of the ability to proficiently remove subgingival calculus.

The Academy believes licensure candidates should also be tested on their ability to identify, diagnose, treat, and manage various periodontal conditions. This type of testing requires either a written or an interactive examination e.g. an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). The written or interactive examination should evaluate the applicant’s skills in the following areas.

Patient Assessment

  1. Evaluation of probing depths and their significance.
  2. Evaluation of furcation involvements and their significance.
  3. Evaluation of signs of inflammation.
  4. Evaluation of attachment levels and loss of attachment.
  5. Evaluation and interpretation of radiographs.


Classification of disease and assignment of an appropriate periodontal diagnosis: e.g. Chronic vs. Aggressive Periodontitis, Disease Severity (Slight, Moderate, Severe), Disease distribution (Localized vs Generalized).


Formulation of an appropriate prognosis, based on the findings and diagnosis.

Treatment Planning

Formulation of an appropriate periodontal treatment plan, including referral to a periodontist, when indicated.


Delivery of non-surgical periodontal therapy.

Periodontal Reevaluation Following Initial Therapy

  1. Evaluation and interpretation of the clinical findings at the time of reevaluation.
  2. Formulation of a revised periodontal treatment plan, including referral to a periodontist, when indicated.


Delivery of periodontal maintenance care at appropriate intervals.

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