Epidemiology and Etiology of Periodontal Disease

Periodontitis is a chronic disease of the hard and soft tissue supporting the teeth caused by bacterial plaque resulting in progressive destruction of the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone.15,16 The disease typically has a slow to moderate rate of disease progression, but periods of accelerated attachment loss may be associated with local and/or systemic factors.23,24 Disease severity is classified as mild (1-2 mm), moderate (3-4), or severe (≥5 mm) based on the amount of clinical attachment loss (CAL).25,26 The prevalence of periodontitis has been estimated to be over 47% of U.S. adults, or 64.7 million individuals.27 Of those individuals, 8.7% showed mild disease, 30.0% demonstrated moderate disease, and 8.5% had severe chronic periodontitis.27 Risk indicators for periodontitis include male gender, Hispanic ethnicity, cigarette smoking, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and lower socioeconomic status.28,29 Prevalence of periodontitis varied two-fold between the lowest and the highest levels of socioeconomic status (Figure 2).30

Figure 2. Periodontal Disease Prevalence in the United States.101

Infographic showing Americans suffering from gum disease

Disease progression of periodontitis has been categorized into subpopulations demonstrating rapid progression (10-15% of disease cases), moderate progression (80% of disease cases), and mild/no progression (5-10% of disease cases).23,31,32 The prevalence distribution of periodontal disease severity and disease progression in treated and untreated populations33 suggests that host factors may play the larger role in disease progression after bacterial initiation.34-39