Gum disease found to be significant public health concern

Sep 22, 2010

The 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 previously thought.

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.

Periodontal 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 with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and .

"This 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 isn't just about a pretty smile. It has bigger implications for overall health, and is therefore a more significant public health problem."

Dr. Low explained 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.

According to Paul Eke, MPH, PhD, epidemiologist at the CDC and lead author of the study, the findings have significant 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." Dr. Eke added, "Research suggests a connection between periodontal health and systemic health. In light of these findings, understanding the relationships between and other systemic diseases in the adult U.S population is more crucial than ever."

Explore further: Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Go green for healthy teeth and gums

Mar 05, 2009

With origins dating back over 4,000 years, green tea has long been a popular beverage in Asian culture, and is increasingly gaining popularity in the United States. And while ancient Chinese and Japanese medicine believed ...

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a wise investment

Feb 06, 2009

Faced with plummeting investments and an unsteady job market, many Americans are feeling the effects of the recent economic crisis. In fact, a recent study by the American Psychological Association found that over 80 percent ...

Floss your teeth -- on the double!

Aug 06, 2008

In dental offices all over the world, patients are often told they are not flossing enough or instructed to floss more. As the old saying goes, you only need to floss the teeth you want to keep. After all, not flossing regularly ...

Stress may leave your mouth a mess

Aug 08, 2007

A literature review published in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology saw a strong relationship between stress and periodontal diseases; 57% of the studies included in the review showed a positive relationship betwee ...

Periodontal diseases are blind to age

Jun 12, 2007

Two new studies in the June issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP) suggest that periodontal diseases are a threat to women of all ages due to hormonal fluctuations that occur at various stages of their lives.

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

8 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

14 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

20 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Squirrel
4 / 5 (1) Sep 22, 2010
People each day have only a limited self-health care time and effort budget. In terms of health gain, it is better to neglect teeth and gums than do this at the cost of intense cardiovascular aiding intense exercise or control over the types of food eaten. Gums and teeth are important but not so important as other health concerns.

The American Academy of Periodontology by the way is not going to advise less use of its members services.