Study examines perio disease disparities across U.S.

A study to be published in the September-October issue of Public Health Reports explores the disparities in periodontal disease among U.S. adults along age, sex, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic lines over a 10-year period.

Luisa Borrell, DDS, PhD, the chair of the Lehman College Department of Health Sciences, and co-author Makram Talih of the Hunter College School of Public Health, examined differences among the population groups within a given time period to understand how race/ethnicity, income, and education levels impact the disease.

They assessed these disparities using a summary measure they developed, the Symmetrized Theil Index, to account for each group's share of the disease and its population size.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) conducted in 1988-1994 and 1999-2004 to examine the disparities, the researchers concluded that although periodontal disease decreased by 7.1% overall between surveys, the disease remained most common among adults age 35 and older, men, blacks, Mexican-Americans, those without a high school diploma, and those from low-income households.

Their findings show that while disparities in periodontal disease decreased between the surveys, those disparities were wider between groups in the 1999-2004 NHANES compared with those observed in the 1988-1994 NHANES, according to Dr. Borrell.

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