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J Clin Periodontol. 2001 Jun;28(6):524-35.

Prevalence and risk indicators for destructive periodontal diseases in 3 urban American minority populations.

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Division of Basic Sciences, New York University College of Dentistry, New York 10010, USA.



Destructive periodontal diseases have been reported disproportionately more prevalent and severe in African-Americans relative to other American populations. Differences in subgingival microbiota and host immune response have also been reported for African-Americans, implying that risk factors for disease progression may also differ for these populations. Since it is not clear whether these differences are truly genetic or due to confounding variables such as social economic status, we examined a series of clinical, environmental, demographic, and microbiologic features associated with periodontal disease status in a group of 185 urban minority subjects resident within the greater New York metropolitan area.


The study population consisted of 56 Asian-American, 71 African-American and 58 Hispanic subjects. Clinical data recorded included pocket depth, attachment level, gingival erythema, bleeding upon probing, suppuration, and the presence of supragingival plaque. Environmental and demographic data recorded included smoking history, years resident in the United States, whether the subject reported a private dentist and occupational status. Subgingival plaque was sampled from the mesial aspect of all teeth exclusive of third molars and the levels of 40 subgingival species enumerated using checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization.


The African-American group had more missing teeth, deeper periodontal pocket depth and more attachment loss than the Asian-American or Hispanic groups. However, the African-American group were less likely to report having a private dentist, had a greater proportion of smokers and a greater proportion of unskilled individuals. The profile of subgingival species differed among the three ethnic/racial groups with A. actinomycetemcomitans, N. mucosa, S. noxia and T. socranskii significantly elevated in the Asian-American group and P. micros significantly elevated in the African-American group. When subset by occupational status, numbers of missing teeth, pocket depth, attachment level and prior disease activity were all found increased in the unskilled relative to the professional group. Local factors including the mean % of sites with plaque, marginal gingival erythema, bleeding upon probing and suppuration were also elevated in the unskilled group. The microbial profile differed among the 3 occupational groups with the unskilled group having elevated numbers of species associated with destructive periodontal diseases.


Although greater destructive periodontal disease prevalence and severity were found in the African-American group, these results suggest that environmental and demographic variables, such as occupational status, may have a greater influence on risk indicators associated with disease prevalence and progression in these populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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