A comparison of the reliability and validity of 3 occlusal indexes of orthodontic treatment need.
Several occlusal indexes are currently used to ascertain eligibility for orthodontic treatment. A comparison of 3 indexes of orthodontic treatment need was made with the consensus opinion of a panel of 15 experienced orthodontists. Sets of study casts (170) representing the full spectrum of malocclusions were selected. An examiner, calibrated in the Dental Aesthetic Index, the Handicapping Labiolingual Deviation with the California Modification, and the Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need, scored the casts. The panel of orthodontists individually rated the same casts for their degree of orthodontic treatment need. The mean rating of the panel on the need for treatment was used as the gold standard for evaluating the validity of the indexes. Intrarater and interrater reliability was high (kappa > 0.8). Overall accuracy of the indexes, as reflected in area under receiver-operating characteristic curves, was also high: Dental Aesthetic Index, 95%; Handicapping Labiolingual Deviation with the California Modification, 94%; and Index of Orthodontic Treatment Need, 98%. Cutoff points for the indexes that resulted in the closest agreement with the gold standard differed from the published cutoff points for the indexes. The indexes appear to be valid measures of treatment need as perceived by orthodontists. The published cutoff points for the indexes were more conservative in assigning patients for treatment than a panel of orthodontists. However, adjusting the cutoff points moved all 3 indexes into close agreement with the experts.