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Science in the News

Periodontal Disease Affects Nearly Half of the U.S. Population

June 15, 2015

Nearly one in every two Americans over the age of 30 has periodontitis, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the May 2015 Journal of Periodontology.1 The study is based on data collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which showed that 46 percent of U.S. adults (> 30 years), representing approximately 65 million people, had periodontitis, with 8.9 percent of those people having severe periodontitis.

Specifically, the study notes that periodontal disease was more common among ethnic minorities.  The disease affected 63 percent of Hispanic-Americans, 59 percent of Non-Hispanic blacks and 50 percent of Non-Hispanic Asian Americans; higher levels as compared to the 41 percent detected among non-Hispanic whites.

A high prevalence of periodontitis also was associated with certain risk factors.  For instance, increased poverty levels, where approximately 62 percent of people living at 100 percent below the federal poverty limit had periodontitis.  Lower education levels also were associated with periodontitis, affecting over 67 percent of those with less than a high school education.  Periodontitis prevalence also was positively associated with increasing age and was higher among men as well as current smokers.

Although the investigators did not do a direct comparison, these updated findings echo the results of the previous NHANES data collection cycle, 2009 to 2010.2  Beginning with that cycle and carrying through to 2014, NHANES has applied a full mouth periodontal examination protocol to collect probing measurements from six sites per tooth for all teeth (except third molars) among a sample of non-institutionalized adults, 30 years and older.  This work is a joint effort of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Periodontology.
Launched in 1999, NHANES is an annual survey of various health characteristics, including periodontitis, reported over two-year periods.  The current study, however, looks at data from both the 2009 to 2010 and the 2011 to 2012 cycles. 

To help patients maintain good oral health, the ADA recommends a daily oral healthcare regimen that includes twice daily brushing for two minutes and cleaning between one’s teeth once a day.  Also encourage patients to eat a healthy diet, limiting snacks, and visit the dentist regularly.

1.  Eke PI, Dye BA, Wei L, et al.  Update on prevalence of periodontitis in adults in the United States: NHANES 2009 to 2012. J Periodontol 2015;86(5):611-22.
2.  Eke PI, Dye BA, Wei L, et al.  Prevalence of periodontitis in adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010.  J Dent Res 2012;91(10):914-20.

About Science in the News

Science in the News is a service by the American Dental Association (ADA) to its members to present current information about science topics in the news. The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public's oral health, ethics, science and professional advancement; leading a unified profession through initiatives in advocacy, education, research and the development of standards. As a science-based organization, the ADA's evaluation of the scientific evidence may change as more information becomes available. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

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