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J Clin Periodontol. 1994 Feb;21(2):76-85.

Prevalence of periodontitis and suspected periodontal pathogens in families of adult periodontitis patients.

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Department of Periodontology, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of periodontopathic microorganisms and periodontal destruction in the spouses and children of adult periodontitis patients. For this study, 24 families were selected on the basis of one parent with severe periodontal breakdown and the presence of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and/or Porphyromonas gingivalis and/or more than 30% Prevotella intermedia subgingivally. The clinical examination of both parents and children included pocket depth and clinical attachment loss (CAL) measurements. Samples for bacterial examination were obtained from the mucous membranes, the saliva and pockets. Pocket selection was based on the most advanced periodontitis situation found in a subject. The samples were cultured for the detection of A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis and P. intermedia. By phase-contrast microscopy, the % of spirochetes and motile microorganisms was assessed. The number of children within each family varied between 1 and 3. In total 49 children were investigated with a range in age of 3 months to 15 years. Results showed that under the age of 5 years, none of the children had CAL, whereas in the age group of 5-15 years, 26.5% had 1-5 sites in the primary and/or permanent dentition with 1-3 mm CAL. 3 of the spouses had no interproximal CAL. 16 of the 24 spouses had a light to moderate form of periodontitis, with at least one site with 1 to 4 mm CAL and 5 spouses had severe periodontal breakdown with sites showing at least 8 mm CAL. Spirochetes, motile microorganisms and P. intermedia were frequently present in all family members. 18 out of the 24 probands were positive for P. gingivalis. This organism was found once only in a 5-year-old boy and in 11 of the spouses. A. actinomycetemcomitans was detected in 13 probands; 5 children and 5 of the spouses were also positive for this bacterium. If a child harboured one of the periodontopathogens, at least 1 of the parents was also positive for that bacterium. This phenomenon may be due to transmission of microorganisms between family members. Comparison of the clinical data reported in the present study with similar clinical parameters from epidemiological studies of the Dutch population suggest that the spouses and children of adult periodontitis patients might be at relatively high risk of developing periodontal breakdown.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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