Written by: John C. Tunnell, DDS, MS (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
A recent study has shown that there is a higher prevalence of periodontitis, a severe form of inflammatory gum disease that results in bone loss around the teeth, within the American population than previously thought. These findings stem from a study in which researchers analyzed data collected on over 10,000 patients from the years 2009 – 2014 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). For the NHANES study, researchers examined each patient and recorded the number of teeth present, the depth of the gum pockets around the teeth, and the amount of gum recession on the teeth, all of which are indicators of the health of the gum tissue and determinates of whether or not periodontal disease is present. In addition, they collected data on racial, ethnic, behavioral, and socioeconomic factors for each patient.
Overall, researchers found that 42% of US adults had some type of periodontitis, with 7.8% having severe periodontitis. Periodontitis was most prevalent in Mexican-Americans followed by non-Hispanic blacks, and occurrence amplified with increasing poverty levels. Periodontitis was also found to significantly occur in association with diabetes and with increasing number of missing teeth. Furthermore, periodontitis was more predominant among patients who were current smokers, those who did not use dental floss, and those not having visited a dentist within the last 6 months.
Periodontitis is one of the main reasons for tooth loss in adults and has also been associated with a growing number of systemic health-related concerns. Make sure you keep your teeth and stay healthy by having a complete periodontal examination with either your dentist or periodontist on a regular basis.
Source: Eke, P.I., Thornton-Evans, G.O., Wei, L., Borgnakke, W.S., Dye, B.A. and Genco, R.J., 2018. Periodontitis in US Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2014. The Journal of the American Dental Association, 149(7), pp.576-588.