Periodontal disease strikes almost without warning, and when a person starts to have loose or shifting teeth, the teeth are probably already at the end-stage of the disease, the Dental Healthcare Group warned.
About 54 percent of Taiwanese adults have periodontal pockets, a sign of potential periodontal disease, as the disease manifests when the pocket depths around a tooth reach 4mm or more, the group said.
The national survey on periodontitis shows that between 22 percent and 38 percent of young adults (age 18 to 34) have the disease, but are not aware of it, and the incidence of asymptomatic periodontitis rises to 53 percent among those aged between 35 and 44. For those aged over 55, the rate is one in every 1.4 people.
Lai Hong-min (賴弘明), dentist and lecturer in oral hygiene at Taipei Medical University, said the disease is an underestimated health risk: While in the past it was considered only an oral disease, “periodontitis is a systematic disease that in the long term can raise the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.”
“It is also highly associated with diabetes and, for women, with premature birth,” Lai said.
The Dental Healthcare Group said a research survey on Taiwanese adults aged 35 to 44 found that those with diabetes have two to four times higher odds of also having periodontitis than those who do not suffer from diabetes.
“It has been scientifically confirmed that diabetes leads to periodontitis. Now we are saying that it is also true the other way around, as we find that the inflammation response of the disease also raises the blood sugar level,” Chang Gung University assistant professor of healthcare management Sherry Yueh-Hsia Chiu (邱月暇) said.
“A survey spanning five years and conducted in Keelung found that those with periodontitis are two to three times more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels than those without the disease,” she added.
Smokers, people who frequently drink sugary beverages and those with poor oral hygiene habits are all highly susceptible to the disease, the Dental Healthcare Group said. Those who use tobacco have a 17 percent higher chance of getting the disease than their non-smoking counterparts, while those who have five or more sugar-containing beverages a week have a 16 percent higher chance of getting periodontal disease, it added.
Brushing one’s teeth both in the morning and at night can help decrease the incidence rate by 26 percent, the group said, adding that eating fruit five times or more a week can reduce the risk by 20 percent.
“Fruits contain vitamin C and flavonoid antioxidants that can help reduce the body’s inflammation response and thereby lower the risk of periodontitis,” Kainan University assistant professor of health industry management Fann Ching-yuan (范靜媛) said.