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Adv Dent Res. 1993 Jul;7(1):25-31.

Cross-sectional studies in periodontal disease: current status and implications for dental practice.

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Department of Dental Care Administration, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


This paper reviews the cross-sectional national studies of periodontal disease conducted over the past 30 years. Studies included are the 1960-62 HES study (NCHS), the 1971-74 NHANES I study (NCHS), the 1981 RTI study (HRSA), and the 1985-86 Employed Adults study (NIDR). For each of these surveys, the population studied, the general sampling strategy, the periodontal measures collected, and the periodontal findings are compared in this paper. Compared with the first three studies, the NIDR 1985-86 findings appear markedly lower, implying that there has been a decline in the prevalence of periodontal disease. Two possible inferences from these studies are that: (1) there has been a decline in the prevalence of periodontal disease in recent years or (2) the sampling and measurement methods may be sufficiently different for these lower numbers to result. Each inference is explored, with the authors concluding that the latter is more plausible. The implications for future treatment needs are then estimated, given the marked trends in the size of the aging population. The number of older adults over age 55 who will need periodontal services will increase. The adequacy of the number, type, and distribution of dental care providers to meet these increasing needs is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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