Periodontal Disease Incidence after Thirty

An interesting study just released in 2015 by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) on the incidence of periodontitis in the United States on adults over age 30.  The study found that 46% of the adults in the U.S. had periodontitis, with almost 9% classified as having “severe periodontitis”.  Periodontitis prevalence was associated with increasing age, and was higher among males.  It was highest in Hispanics (63.5%), blacks (59.1%), then Asians (50%), and finally whites (40.8%).

            Some thoughts.  The study involved diagnosing periodontitis—which is the next step above gingivitis, so popularized by Listerine commercials—which means it is more advanced than gingivitis.  What is interesting is that the study was done by the CDC, over a 3 year period, involving 5 different dental schools across the U.S., so I think it a pretty valid study.  I am somewhat surprised that the percentage numbers reported are not even higher, given what I see from all the probing of gum tissues that we’ve done over the years, but even if this is a conservative estimate, it still is pretty significant—especially the older one gets and given the “infrequency” of dental visits that many people employ simply because they don’t perceive any problems..  The problem is that periodontal disease is quite painless until the more advanced stages and in early stages, quite reversible or controllable.  I’m probably preaching to the choir here for many of you, but the more you can perio-aid your teeth as you were shown in the office, the lesser the chance of developing periodontal disease.  Once you get much above 4 mm. pocket depth, a tooth brush or dental floss will not cleanse those deeper areas and if you cannot cleanse the tooth……  By the way, the chief predictor of developing periodontitis came out years ago:  smoking!

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