Gum Disease Found To Be Significant Public Health Concern
prevalence of periodontal disease in the United States may be
significantly higher than originally estimated. Research published in
the Journal of Dental Research from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP)
suggests that the prevalence of periodontal disease may have been
underestimated by as much as 50 percent. The implication is that more
American adults may suffer from moderate to severe gum disease than
In a National
Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) pilot study, funded by
the CDC’s Division of Oral Health, a full-mouth, comprehensive
periodontal examination was conducted on over 450 adults over the age
of 35. Periodontal disease was classified according to definitions
determined by the CDC in collaboration with the AAP. The prevalence
rates were then compared against the results of previous NHANES studies
which used a partial-mouth periodontal examination. Historically,
NHANES has served as the main source for determining prevalence of
periodontal disease in US adults. The pilot study finds that the
original partial-mouth study methodology may have underestimated true
disease prevalence by up to 50 percent.
disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue
and other structures supporting the teeth. If left untreated, it can
lead to tooth loss, and may also interfere with other systems of the
body. Several research studies have
associated gum disease with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as
diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
study shows that periodontal disease is a bigger problem than we all
thought. It is a call to action for anyone who cares about his or her
oral health.” said Samuel Low, DDS, MS, associate dean and
professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of
Dentistry, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology.
“Given what we know about the relationship between gum disease
and other diseases, taking care of your oral health isn’t just
about a pretty smile. It has bigger implications for overall health,
and is therefore a more significant public health problem.”
that the increased prevalence of periodontal disease makes it essential
to maintain healthy teeth and gums. “Not only should you take
good care of your periodontal health with daily tooth brushing and
flossing, you should expect to get a comprehensive periodontal
evaluation every year,” he advised. A dental professional, such
as a periodontist, a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and
prevention of gum disease, will conduct the comprehensive exam to
assess your periodontal disease status.
Paul Eke, MPH, PhD, epidemiologist at the CDC and lead author of the
study, the findings have significant public health implications.
“The study suggests we have likely underestimated the prevalence
of periodontal disease in the adult US population,” he said.
“We are currently utilizing a full-mouth periodontal examination
in the 2009/10 NHANES to better understand the full extent and
characteristics of periodontal disease in our adult
population.” Eke added, “Research suggests a
connection between periodontal health and systemic health. In light of
these findings, understanding the relationships between periodontal
disease and other systemic diseases in the adult U.S population is more
crucial than ever.”
For more information on the American Academy of Periodontology, visit www.perio.org.