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Study On Periodontal Disease Shows More Americans May Have Less To Smile About

  • November 27, 2010

COLLEGEVILLE, WILLIAMSPORT AND PHILADELPHIA, PA – Periodontal disease is no laughing matter, and with recent research showing that its prevalence in the U.S. may have been underestimated, it seems there are more people who have less to smile about.

Making people aware of the harmful effects of periodontal disease and how easy it is to treat when identified in its early stages could go a long way toward preventing the problem from proliferating, said Philadelphia, PA Periodontist Dr. David DiGiallorenzo.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey traditionally has served as the primary source for determining the prevalence of periodontal disease in American adults.

Results from a study performed by the NHANES and published in the Journal of Dental Research states that the prevalence of periodontal disease may have been underestimated by as much as 50 percent.

“That means there very likely are more adults in the United States suffering from gum disease than we once thought,” said the Philadelphia, PA dental implants and periodontal disease expert.

Doctors performed comprehensive periodontal examinations of the entire mouth on more than 450 adults aged 35 and older in the NHANES pilot study, according to information posted on the American Academy of Periodontology website. The doctors performing the study classified periodontal disease according to definitions determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the AAP.

Periodontal disease- also commonly referred to as gum disease – is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. Untreated gum disease can eventually cause teeth to become loose or even fall out.

After classifying periodontal disease in the subjects of the study, the prevalence rates were compared against results from prior studies that involved partial-mouth periodontal examinations. The pilot study found that the original partial-mouth study methodology may have underestimated true disease prevalence by as much as 50 percent.

“There also is a growing amount of information that draws a connection between gum disease and systemic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammatory disease, diabetes and even rheumatoid arthritis,” said DiGiallorenzo.
Treating periodontal disease is easiest when diagnosed in its early stages. The guidelines set forth by the AAP suggest treating in the most cost-effective, least invasive manner.

The most technologically advanced treatment method is the laser-assisted new attachment procedure- LANAP-said Digiallorenzo, who treats gum disease at his Philadelphia, PA periodontics practice using this method. LANAP provides an alternative to treating gum disease with traditional gum surgery, which involves cutting the gums, peeling them back to remove plaque and tartar, and suturing them back into place. LANAP is a non-surgical alternative that uses a laser to gently pass between the teeth and gum line to eliminate diseased tissue and leave healthy tissue in its place.

The process uses ultrasonic root debridement to clean root surfaces, he said. Then a different laser setting is used to clot the blood so the periodontist gets a good seal. This eliminates the need to use sutures.

“I can’t tell you how happy patients are when they hear that we can treat their periodontal disease without any cutting or stitches,” he said. “This procedure also requires very little tissue removal to reduce pocket depth.”

LANAP can be completed in one visit. In addition to reducing pocket depth, it reduces infection and in many cases, stimulates bone to regenerate.

Recognizing the signs of periodontal disease and getting treated early on is key in promoting oral and overall health, DiGiallorenzo said. Those signs include: red, sore and/or bleeding gums; shifting, loose and/or missing teeth; bad breath; and receding gums.

“If you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, it’s a good idea to have a dental checkup,” he said. “The earlier these things are identified and addressed, the better off you will be.”

© 2010 Master Google and Dr. David Digiallorenzo.