OBJECTIVES: The need to assess both lay and professional views of oral health is believed to be at the centre of success when providing dental health care for older patients. Self-perceived physical (oral) health and perceptions of psychosocial functioning must be included if expressed need is to be assessed. The aim of this work was to construct an expressed need schedule and to assess the ability of this assessment to predict older community-based patients' satisfaction with complete dentures. DESIGN: Survey of 260 people aged 65 years and over. SETTING: Community setting. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The participants were interviewed using a 55 item modified version of the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP) to assess their psychological, social and perceptions of their oral health. All participants were subjected to an oral examination. RESULTS: The results showed that complete denture wearers compared had greater experience of difficulties associated with oral health and psychological functioning. Factor analysis allowed the identification of three dimensions associated with psychological, social and self-perceived physical (oral) health. When these factors were regressed with normative denture treatment need against satisfaction with complete dentures, satisfaction was characterised by high self-perceived physical (oral) health, low social health problems and no identifiable normative need. CONCLUSION: This work supports the inclusion of self-perceived physical (oral) health and psychosocial health (expressed need) questions in a schedule when predicting satisfaction with complete dentures.