Tag Archives: gum disease

New report provides snapshot of gum disease prevalence

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Dental hygenist

Image by The National Guard via flickr.

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a widespread oral health problem. Research suggests that nearly half of all Americans 30 years old or older are affected by the condition, which can lead to sore, bleeding gums, chewing problems and even tooth loss if allowed to progress.

Poor oral hygiene habits and a lack of professional care can set the stage for the infection, allowing a sticky bacterial plaque to build up and harden on the teeth. Smoking is also considered a leading risk factor for gum disease. Continue reading

Gum disease, with implications for overall health, affects nearly half of Americans

About Mary Otto

Mary Otto, a Washington, D.C.-based freelancer, is AHCJ's topic leader on oral health and the author of "Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America." She can be reached at mary@healthjournalism.org.

Nearly half of American adults have some level of periodontal disease, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings could provide a teachable moment for health care journalists.

Mary OttoMary Otto, AHCJ’s topic leader on oral health is writing blog posts, editing tip sheets and articles and gathering resources to help our members cover oral health care.

If you have questions or suggestions for future resources on the topic, please send them to mary@healthjournalism.org.

The malady’s common name, gum disease, sounds pretty innocuous.  But a definition offered by the CDC provides a glimpse at its deeper implications for oral and overall health.

“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.”

The study, published online Aug 30 by the Journal of Dental Research, found that about 47 percent of U.S. adults ages 30 and older had periodontitis. In adults ages 65 years and older, an estimated 70 percent 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.

“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,” said the report’s lead author,  Paul Eke, a CDC epidemiologist. Continue reading