Tag Archives: NHANES

Reports emphasize the dangers of racial disparities in oral health

Photo: Courtesy Elena Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Photo: Courtesy Elena Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H.

Hispanic medical and dental leaders at a recent joint meeting in Washington, D.C., highlighted the urgency of getting more culturally competent health care services to their communities.

A chronic shortage of Spanish-speaking health care providers has contributed to a lack of access to care and widespread health disparities among Hispanics, they stressed. Continue reading

Survey shows improvement in preschoolers’ dental health, but disparities persist

Though deep disparities in oral health remain, preliminary findings in a new federal report suggest that tooth decay among American preschool children may be declining overall.

Bruce Dye

Experts stress that the study, detailed in a National Center for Health Statistics data brief from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reflects just two years’ worth of data, but hail the news as hopeful.

About 23 percent of children age 2 to 5 years had decay in primary teeth, according to 2011-2012 data from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which has become an important tool for assessing the state of the nation’s oral health. Continue reading

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

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