New CDC report on health disparities includes chapter on disparities in periodontitis

Nov. 22, 2013

Today, CDC released a major report on health disparities and inequalities, “CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2013.” This report is the second in a series addressing a multitude of differences in mortality and disease risk released to behaviors, access to health care, and social determinants of health — the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, and work.

For the first time, the report includes a chapter on periodontitis. The chapter highlights inequalities among adults with periodontitis by race/ethnicity, gender, education and income level, and smoking status. Among the key findings are that the prevalence of periodontitis is significantly higher in non-Hispanic Blacks and Mexican Americans compared to non-Hispanic Whites. In addition, periodontitis is higher in men than in women; in people with less than a high school education; in people of lower income levels; and in current and former smokers. The report was based on analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009–2010. A previous study – published last year – showed that periodontal disease affects a large percentage of U.S. adults. Overall, for 2009–2010, an estimated 47% of adults aged 30 years and older had periodontitis; this increases to 70% for adults aged 65 years and older. The new CDC disparities report is available online at

RELATED:AAP honors significant achievements in the field of periodontics

Also available this month – in the Journal of Dental Research – is a new study on the use of self-report questions developed to determine the population prevalence of periodontitis. The study, “Self-reported Measures for Surveillance of Periodontitis,” uses NHANES 2009–2010 data to evaluate the performance of 8 potential self-report questions in predicting periodontitis. Subjects answered questions about gum health and treatment history, loose teeth, bone loss around teeth and tooth not looking right, and use of dental floss and mouthwash. Responses to these questions were tested for their ability to predict periodontitis cases based on a full-mouth clinical assessment. The study confirms that the self-report questions performed well in predicting periodontitis in U.S. adults. The goal is to develop this option for states/communities where it is not feasible to use a clinical assessment for surveillance of periodontitis. Locally developed variants of these self-reported measures may allow states/communities to conduct surveillance of periodontal disease. This study was conducted in collaboration with the American Academy of Periodontology. The report is available at