I had been quite comfortable with teaching the results obtained in NHANES III (the population-based 3rd National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey the data of which had been collected between 1988 and 1994) for a long time. In a nutshell, for the adult, dentate (those with teeth) population of the United States Albandar and Kingman (1999) had reported that,
- gingival inflammation (as assessed by bleeding on probing) is widespread with increasing prevalence (at least one bleeding site) from 40-50% in 30 to 39-yr-olds to around 60% in 80-plus-yr-olds, as well as increasing extent (mean % teeth with gingival bleeding) from about 13 to 23%;
- likewise, calculus is widespread with prevalence in 90-95% of subjects and increasing, with age, extent from 40-50% to more than 60% teeth; and
- while males had significantly more gingival bleeding, more subgingival calculus and more teeth with either supra and subgingival calculus than females, non-hispanic blacks had the highest prevalence and extent of dental calculus.
When it comes to periodontitis, Albandar et al. (1999) observed that,
- at least 35% of the adult population were affected by the disease, but most cases (22%) were mild;
- moderate and advanced periodontitis affected not more than 13%;
- not surprisingly, prevalence and extent of attachment loss increased with age while in the oldest age group (80 yr and older), prevalence of deep pockets decreased because of tooth loss and recession; and,
- severe forms of the disease affected more men and more African Americans and Hispanics than Whites.