Periodontal Disease in Seniors (Age 65 and Over)

Overall, the prevalence of periodontal (gum) disease in seniors has decreased from the early 1970s until the latest (1999-2004) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In spite of this improvement, significant disparities remain in some population groups.

Tables 1 and 2 present information about periodontal disease for seniors age 65 and over years and for selected population groups.

The research definitions of periodontal disease are not necessarily the same as the common definition of gum disease, which may include both gingivitis (inflammation of the gums without any loss of bone and tissue) and periodontitis (as defined below):

For the purposes of epidemiological research, periodontal disease is defined very specifically. For a person to have periodontal disease, he or she must have at least one periodontal site with 3 millimeters or more of attachment loss and 4 millimeters or more of pocket depth. Moderate periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 4 millimeters or more OR at least two teeth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites. Severe periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 6 millimeters or more AND at least one tooth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites.

Prevalence of Periodontal Disease (Table 1)

  • 17.20% of seniors age 65 and over have periodontal disease.
  • Older seniors, Black and Hispanic seniors, current smokers, and those with lower incomes and less education are more likely to have periodontal disease.

Prevalence of Severe Periodontal disease (Table 2)

  • 10.58% of seniors 65 and over have moderate or severe periodontal disease.
  • Older seniors, Black and Hispanic seniors, current smokers, and those with lower incomes and less education are more likely to have moderate/severe periodontal disease.

Table 1: Seniors, Prevalence of Periodontal Disease

Prevalence of periodontal disease among seniors with teeth, age 65 and over years of age, by selected characteristics: United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
Characteristic Percent with periodontal disease*
Age  
65 to 74 years 10.20
75 years and over 11.03
Sex  
Male 12.97
Female 8.56
Race and Ethnicity  
White, non-Hispanic 8.99
Black, non-Hispanic 23.92
Mexican American 17.23
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)  
Less than 100% 17.49
100% to 199% 11.59
Greater than 200% 8.62
Education  
Less than High School 16.56
High School 8.30
More than High School 8.90
Smoking History  
Current Smoker 13.80
Former Smoker 9.20
Never Smoked 11.12
Overall 10.58

 

Data Source: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s. Tables 1 through 4 present the latest NHANES (collected between 1999 and 2004) data regarding periodontal disease in seniors.

* Periodontal disease is defined as having at least one periodontal site with 3 millimeters or more of attachment loss and 4 millimeters or more of pocket depth.

Table 2: Seniors, Prevalence of Moderate or Severe Periodontal Disease

Severity of periodontal disease among seniors with teeth, age 65 and over years of age, by selected characteristics: United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999–2004
Characteristic Percentage with moderate or severe periodontal disease*
Age  
65 to 74 years 14.26
75 years and over 20.75
Sex  
Male 20.61
Female 14.40
Race and Ethnicity  
White, non-Hispanic 15.47
Black, non-Hispanic 24.47
Mexican American 24.20
Poverty Status (Income compared to Federal Poverty Level)  
Less than 100% 31.96
100% to 199% 18.75
Greater than 200% 13.91
Education  
Less than High School 28.24
High School 15.51
More than High School 12.38
Smoking History  
Current Smoker 32.01
Former Smoker 19.25
Never Smoked 14.08
Overall 17.20

 

Data Source: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has been an important source of information on oral health and dental care in the United States since the early 1970s. Tables 1 through 4 present the latest NHANES (collected between 1999 and 2004) data regarding periodontal disease in seniors.

* Using the CDC-AAP definition of moderate and severe periodontitis: Moderate periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 4 millimeters or more OR at least two teeth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites. Severe periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 6 millimeters or more AND at least one tooth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites.

Last Reviewed
July 2018