Bulletin of Dental Education

New Statistics Show High Adult Prevalence of Periodontitis

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New Statistics Show High Adult Prevalence of Periodontitis

A new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly half of U.S. adults have some level of periodontal disease.  Also commonly called “gum disease,” the study, published online in the Journal of Dental Research, found that about 47% of U.S. adults ages 30 and older had periodontitis. In adults ages 65 years and older, an estimated 70% have periodontitis. The study was conducted in a sample of 3,743 adults who received an examination as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 2009 and 2010.

Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. It can range from a mild inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the teeth (gingivitis) to irreversible chronic destruction of both the soft and hard (bone) tissues supporting the teeth (periodontitis). The more severe form can lead to tooth loss.

“This study shows that the prevalence of periodontal disease is high—nearly half of all American adults have periodontitis and the percentage increases to nearly three-fourths of older adults,” states the lead author on the report, CDC Epidemiologist Pau I Eke, PhD, MPH, Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  He added that the new study provides the most accurate estimates of the percentage of U.S. adults who have periodontitis. ”This is the first time our survey was based on a full-mouth periodontal examination using clinical measures from six sites around each tooth and from all teeth.” Previous studies examined fewer sites around fewer teeth in selected areas of the mouth.

Among the key findings of the study are that for adults 30 years and older, 8.7% had mild periodontitis, 30% had moderate periodontitis, and 8.5% had severe periodontitis.  Periodontitis was higher in men, Mexican Americans, adults with less than a high school education, low-income adults, and in current smokers.

In addition to tobacco use, other risk factors for gum disease include diabetes, stress, crooked or crowded teeth, medications that cause dry mouth, immune-deficiencies, hormonal changes in women.

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