Aims To understand current practice and the beliefs of dentists and hygienists towards factors which may influence the management of patients with periodontal diseases in primary dental care in Scotland. To inform the scope of a guidance publication and the future development of diagnostic analyses tools.Methods A qualitative approach of semi-structured telephone interviews with a randomly selected sample of dentists and hygienists was used. Interviews continued until saturation was reached and were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were analysed using the method of framework analysis. To increase the participation of hygienists the topic guide was adapted into a self-reporting questionnaire and posted to all hygienists in Scotland.Results Eighteen dentists and three hygienists were interviewed. Key themes identified were extent of control over working environment, capabilities to treat appropriately and changing patients' oral hygiene behaviour. Factors which facilitated the management of patients with periodontal diseases were 'access to a hygienist' and 'beliefs about capabilities', while 'routine and habit', 'motivation of patients' and 'time and money' were perceived as barriers. Some evidence of variation in treatment provision and of varying levels of confidence among practitioners about treating more advanced periodontal conditions was identified. Two hundred and thirty-seven hygienists returned the postal questionnaire. Agreement was found with the views of the interviewed hygienists on beliefs about capabilities and routine record-keeping.Conclusion To improve the periodontal health of patients requires consideration of both extrinsic and intrinsic factors present in primary dental care. Practitioners would find having guidance on managing patients with basic periodontal examinations of three and four, referral criteria to secondary care, record-keeping and techniques to change patients' oral hygiene behaviour particularly useful. Applying the evaluative framework pre-publication indicated where knowledge translation interventions may be required in the future.