BACKGROUND: Our objectives were to assess the validity of self-reported periodontal status by quantifying the 1) concordance between self-reported and clinical status at baseline; and 2) validity using a multivariable regression of self-reported periodontal status and sociodemographic status. METHODS: The Florida Dental Care Study was a prospective study that used a population-based, stratified random sample of 873 persons in four counties of north Florida who were ≥45 years of age at baseline. Analyses used baseline data derived from in-person interviews and clinical periodontal examinations. Multivariable logistic regressions were done to quantify the relationships between the outcome (clinically determined periodontal attachment level) and predictors (self-reported dental symptoms, self-reported dental behaviors, sociodemographic circumstances, and clinically determined number of remaining teeth). RESULTS: Self-rated "gum" health and presence of a loose tooth were the only periodontal measures that were associated significantly with clinically determined periodontal status in multivariable regressions. The validity of self-reported periodontal status improved when the threshold of severity was increased. Significant racial differences in the validity of self-reports were evident. CONCLUSION: Self-reported measures of periodontal status were related to clinically measured periodontal attachment loss and warranted classifying their validity as "moderate" and useful for some circumstances.