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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 836
Utility of the visual analog scale in dentistry

Department of Prosthodontics, Goverment Dental College and Hospital, Nagpur, India

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Date of Web Publication3-May-2013

How to cite this article:
Patil PG. Utility of the visual analog scale in dentistry. Indian J Dent Res 2012;23:836

How to cite this URL:
Patil PG. Utility of the visual analog scale in dentistry. Indian J Dent Res [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Nov 28];23:836. Available from:

Feelings are states of the self, and incorporate moods and sensations. Although a person may appreciate precisely his state on a selected dimension, words may fail to describe the exactness of the subjective experience. An understanding of many problems in clinical research presupposes that it is possible to communicate the desired information from patient to clinician in a way amenable to measurement. [1] For the measurement of feelings, communication based on a simple visual analogue seems appropriate. A visual analog scale (VAS) is a tool used to help a person rate the intensity of certain sensations and feelings such as pain. [2] For example, the VAS for pain is a straight line with one end meaning no pain and the other end meaning the worst pain imaginable. A patient marks a point on the line that matches the amount of pain he or she feels. Though in dentistry "pain" is the most frequently existent feeling, dental patients have a lot more to share with the clinician which must be expressed by the patient in some concrete number. In previous dental literature, the clinicians used a VAS for assessment of smile esthetics, [3] for measuring dental fluorosis severity, [4] for assessment of dental anxiety, [5] in classifying satisfaction levels of complete denture wearers [6] and for observer assessment of postoperative swelling subsequent to third-molar surgery. [7] Unfortunately, I found limited number of articles in the dental literature about the utility of the VAS. I personally feel that the VAS should not just be used for survey and research purposes but should be used even for a single patient seeking dental treatment, to assess the pre or post operative feelings. The assessment of the patient's level of satisfaction on the VAS definitely helps clinicians to think according to the patient's mindset. This will decrease the subjective perception gap between the clinician and the patient. The VAS is an effective tool in expressing or analyzing the patients' feelings quantitatively, before and after seeking any kind of dental treatment, thus provides a concrete base for reporting the case in the scientific journals or books. This concrete base can become the effective communication tool among the clinicians as well as between the clinicians and the patients. The aim of this letter is to aware all clinicians and researchers to use the VAS consistently.

   References Top

1.Aitken RC. Measurement of feelings using visual analogue scales. Proc R Soc Med 1969;62:989-93.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Dictionary of cancer terms; National Cancer Institute. Available from: (Last accessed on 2013 Feb 19].  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Schabel BJ, McNamara JA, Franchi L, Baccetti T. Q-sort assessment vs visual analog scale in the evaluation of smile esthetics Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 2009;135:S61-71.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Vieira AP, Lawrence HP, Limeback H, Sampaio FC, Grynpas M. A visual analog scale for measuring dental fluorosis severity J Am Dent Assoc 2005;136:895-901.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Luyk NH, Beck FM, Weaver JM. A visual analogue scale in the assessment of dental anxiety. Anesth Prog 1988;35:121-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Kawai Y, Ajiro H, Takeo A, Kondoh T, Ohno Y, Yamakawa A, et al. Determination of cutoff values on the 100-mm visual analogue scale to classify the satisfaction levels of complete denture wearers. Prosthodont Res Pract 2006;5:91-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Berge TI. The use of a visual analogue scale in observer assessment of postoperative swelling subsequent to third-molar surgery. Acta Odontol Scand 1989;47:167-74.  Back to cited text no. 7

Correspondence Address:
Pravinkumar G Patil
Department of Prosthodontics, Goverment Dental College and Hospital, Nagpur
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-9290.111277

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