Periodontal Disease Study Shows Prevalence in U.S. South

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found in a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Dental Research that gum disease is more prevalent in southern U.S. states than in their northern counterparts.

The study, called “Periodontal Periodontitis at State and Local Levels in the United States,” sought to compare and contrast the rates of periodontitis in all 50 states.

With New Mexico and Hawaii having the highest prevalence of periodontal disease — at 52.79 percent and 51.10 percent, respectively — the researchers saw that southern states had higher rates than seen in the north.

In a press release accompanying the study, Dr. Paul Eke, CDC epidemiologist and lead author, said, “We found the estimated geographic distribution of adult periodontitis to be highest among southeastern and southwestern states, with concentrated pockets along the southeast, in the Mississippi Delta, along the U.S.-Mexico border and among Native American reservations.”

“Periodontal disease continues to be a major health concern for people of all backgrounds,” said Dr. Wayne Aldredge, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, in the press release. “The AAP is committed to increasing public awareness of periodontal health and will continue to work with allied dental organizations, educational institutions and government agencies to reduce incidence of periodontitis in the U.S. adult population.

In addition, the study found that:

  • The rate of periodontitis lowest in the country was found in Utah, which had a prevalence of 37.7 percent.

  • “Severe” periodontitis ranged from 6.4 percent in New Hampshire to 11.3 percent in Louisiana.

  • National estimates had a mean and median state prevalence of 45.1 percent and 44.9 percent, respectively.

The study serves an important purpose, Dr. Eke said. “Given how closely associated the risk for periodontitis is with other chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the prevention and treatment of periodontitis represents an opportunity for dental and medical professionals to work together to improve the public’s health.”

The study can be accessed by visiting jdr.sagepub.com/.

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