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J Periodontol. 2002 May;73(5):531-5.

Oral hygiene practices and periodontitis in health care professionals.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



One in 3 adults in the United States has periodontitis, yet there are few widely applied methods for its prevention. Few studies have assessed oral hygiene practices related to periodontitis.


There were 533 participants in this study (14.8% male dentists; 13.7% male non-dentist health care professionals; and 71.5% female nurses), all of whom are enrolled in ongoing cohort studies in the United States which have inquired about their oral hygiene practices and whether they have professionally diagnosed periodontitis. We studied the relationship between oral hygiene practices and periodontitis, controlling for potential confounders.


The participants were 69 years old on average, 84.2% white, 12.4% current smokers, and 8.3% diabetic. Seventy percent of the dentists and nurses brushed at least twice a day compared to 56% of the other health professionals. Two-thirds of the nurses, 56.3% dentists, and 36.4% other health professionals flossed at least once daily. Persons brushing twice daily were as likely to have periodontitis as those brushing once or less daily (odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.64 to 2.10); persons flossing less than once a day were as likely to have periodontitis as those who flossed daily (OR = 1.16, 95% CI: 0.63 to 2.13) after controlling for profession, age, gender, smoking, diabetes, coronary heart disease, history of periodontal surgery, and number of teeth present.


People who reported better oral hygiene practices did not report less periodontitis, after controlling for potential confounders. Oral hygiene practices were not associated with periodontitis in this population.

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