Half of U.S. Adults Have Gum Disease

One out of every two American adults age 30 and over has periodontal (gum) disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is the most accurate picture of periodontal disease in theU.S.adult population we have ever had,” said Dr. Pamela McClain, President of theAmericanAcademyof Periodontology. “For the first time, we now have a precise measure of the prevalence of periodontal disease, and can better understand the true severity and extent of periodontal disease in our country.”

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Recent research has also shown that periodontal disease is associated with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The CDC findings showed that the occurrence of periodontal disease is higher in men than in women (56.4 percent vs. 38.4 percent) and is highest in Mexican Americans (66.7 percent) compared to other races. Other population groups with high rates of periodontal disease include current smokers (64.2 percent), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4 percent), and those with less than a high school education (66.9 percent).

Many people don’t even know they have periodontal disease because it is generally painless and often there are no symptoms until the disease progresses. Common symptoms include bleeding, red inflamed gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. The only way to know for sure that you have periodontal disease is to have a professional examination. Although periodontal disease can’t be cured, it can be controlled with daily brushing and flossing and regular professional examinations and cleanings.