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Consumers Overlook Gum Disease as Major Health Issue, 1998 Oral Health Survey Reveals.

-- Dentists surveyed say periodontal (gum) disease is the most pressing oral health issue

-- Three out of four dentists plan to educate patients on possible links between periodontal disease and medical ailments, with 42 percent planning to recommend home care products with antibacterial ingredients

-- Dentists believe maintaining good oral hygiene/preventive care is primary oral health issue facing the baby-boomer generation

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Dentists indicate that periodontal disease is the most pressing oral health issue heading toward the new millennium and that it is the number one problem their patients are not adequately concerned about, according to the 1998 American Dental Association (ADA)/Colgate Oral Health Trend Survey. In addition, the survey reveals that 73 percent of dentists plan to educate patients about possible links between periodontal disease and other medical conditions.

Periodontal Disease Key Concern Among Dentists

Forty-two percent of dentists surveyed state that periodontal disease is the most pressing oral health issue as we approach the year 2000. More than half (55 percent) cite periodontal disease as the one area their patients are not adequately concerned about, followed by plaque/tartar build-up at 19 percent.

Given the recent reports indicating a possible relationship between periodontal disease and stroke, heart disease, and pre-term low-birth-weight babies, 73 percent of dentists surveyed plan to educate patients regarding possible links, and 42 percent plan to recommend home care products with antibacterial ingredients.

"With dentists' citing periodontal disease as the most significant oral health issue and acknowledging patients' apparent lack of concern, it is important for dentists to educate their patients about the disease," says David A. Whiston, DDS, president of the American Dental Association. "The annual ADA/Colgate survey allows us to identify important issues so that we as a community can take the necessary steps to improve the health of our country."

"Dentists are taking the possible links between periodontal disease and systemic health seriously," says Christopher Fox, DMD, DMSc, director, Global Professional Relations for Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals. "While further research is needed to confirm the connection, we see that dentists are already planning to take preventive measures through patient education and recommending home care products with antibacterial ingredients."

Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal (gum) disease is a condition in which the tissues surrounding and supporting teeth are attacked by bacteria and can result in tooth loss if not treated.

The ADA cites the following warning signs for periodontal disease. If you notice any of these signs, see your dentist immediately:

-- Gums that bleed easily

-- Red, swollen or tender gums

-- Persistent bad breath or bad taste

-- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating

-- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

"It's possible to have periodontal disease and not recognize the warning signs," explains Matthew Messina, DDS, ADA consumer advisor and a practicing dentist. "That's why regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations are important."

For more information on periodontal disease, log on to ADAOnline at www.ada.org.

Baby Boomers Oral Health Report

Forty-three percent of dentists believe maintaining good oral hygiene/preventive care is going to be the primary oral health issue facing the baby-boomer generation, followed by periodontal disease at 32 percent. However, 80 percent of dentists report that whitening/bleaching is the service that this generation is most likely to request versus other age groups, followed by other cosmetic dentistry (69 percent). Periodontal disease ranked a far third, with 46 percent of dentists citing it as the most requested service.

The computerized survey, sponsored by Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals at ADA's annual session, polled 525 U.S. dentists about general oral care trends. The survey, in its seventh year, was administered by Pathfinder Research group of Acton, Mass., an independent opinion and market research firm specializing in trend and leadership studies.

ADA is a Chicago-based professional association representing 143,000 U.S. dentists. Based in Canton, Mass., Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals is the professional oral care products subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive.
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Date:Oct 26, 1998
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