U.S. Gum Disease Underestimated by Half

GAINESVILLE, Fla., Sept. 24 (UPI) — Experts say estimates of gum disease in the United States may have been too low and may have underestimated it by half.

A National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the American Academy of Periodontology indicates the past partial-mouth examination method may have underestimated true disease prevalence by up to 50 percent.

In the pilot study, published in the Journal of Dental Research, full mouth examinations were done on 450 adults age 35 and older.

“This study shows that periodontal disease is a bigger problem than we all thought. It is a call to action for anyone who cares about his or her oral health,” Dr. Samuel Low of the University of Florida College of Dentistry and president of the American Academy of Periodontology says in a statement. “Given what we know about the relationship between gum disease and other diseases, taking care of your oral health isn’t just about a pretty smile. It has bigger implications for overall health, and is therefore a more significant public health problem.”

Periodontal disease — chronic gum tissue inflammation that can lead to tooth loss — has been linked to other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

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