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Sadly, Perio Disease Joins the Club

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  • Almost half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease.
  • Non-HIspanic Blacks and Mexican Americans are significantly  more likely to have periodontal disease than Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Also more likely to have periodontal disease: men; individuals living at lower income levels and/or without a high-school diploma; and current and former smokers.


We are not surprised. These findings and more are included in the CDC's recently released second Health Disparities and Inequalities Report, which has been spotlighted in numerous professional and consumer media outlets. (Periodontal disease was not addressed in the first report, issued in 2011.) 

While we in the dental world are particularly interested in any oral health areas covered, the entire report is both fascinating and frightening.  Even the descriptor in the report's executive summary is depressing, explaining what the report covers.....

"....disparities in health - care access, exposure to environmental hazards, mortality, morbidity, behavioral risk factors, disability status, and social determinants of selected health problems at the national level."

....and why.....

"....[[to be considered for the report,]] the topic had to meet one or more of the following criteria: 1) leading cause of premature death, higher disease burden, or lower life expectancy at birth for certain segments of the U.S. population as defined by sex, race/ethnicity, income or education, geography, sexual orientation, and disability status; 2) known determinant of health (e.g., social, demographic, and environmental) where disparities have been identified; and 3) health outcome for which effective and feasible interventions exist where disparities have been identified."

Yikes. That puts periodontal disease among some heavy-hitting company: suicide, binge drinking, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and residential proximity to major highways, just to name a few. While the report may be a dismal commentary on the state of U.S. health, access to care, and behaviors. it is heartening to see that oral health--and periodontal disease in particular--is getting the serious recognition it warrants in the public health sector. What's going to be done to remedy these widespread disparities and inequalities is another conversation. Awareness first.

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