New Economist Impact Report on Periodontal Disease and Access to Treatment in the U.S.

With the support of Crest & Oral-B, and with input from AAP members Drs. David Okano, Chris Richardson, and Purnima Kumar, The Economist recently launched an impact report on gum disease and access to treatment in the U.S.

CHICAGO – July 6, 2023- American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) members Dr. David Okano, Dr. Chris Richardson, and Dr. Purnima Kumar were interviewed for an Economist impact report focusing on gum disease and gum disease treatment in the U.S. The report outlines the importance of preventing gum disease, the detrimental effects of gum disease, as well as current disparities in oral health care—and what needs to happen to change this.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, results from an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth and inflammation of the gum and bone surrounding and supporting the teeth. It begins as gingivitis, a reversible inflammation of the gums resulting in bleeding and swelling. If left untreated, gum disease may result in missing teeth, negatively impacting nutritional intake, and leading to deficiencies, especially in older adults.

The perio-systemic link is emphasized in the report, stating that long-term inflammation related to gum disease has been associated with heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, worsened glycemic control among people with diabetes, an increased risk of preterm birth, and increased cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s.

Aside from the health aspects, one of the key reasons early identification is so important is because of the economic burden it causes individuals and health systems in the U.S. Many individuals face inequitable access to dental care based on their income level, health insurance status, racial or ethnic background, immigration status, age, or location. To combat disparities in oral health care, it is crucial for states to come up with appropriate policies.

The report also proves that it is better to take care of your gums now than deal with the costs of treating them later. The annual cost of untreated gum disease is an estimated US$154bn.

Dr. David Okano, president of the AAP, states, “Taking the proper steps to prevent gum disease may seem like a burden, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care. Once the disease takes hold, the costs to treat it are much higher. With a combination of public education and legislation that provides for equitable access to care, the overall financial burden for treating gum disease will decrease, while the overall health of patients will improve.”

Dr. Leslie Winston, Periodontist and Vice President of Global Oral Care at Procter & Gamble shares: “At Crest and Oral-B, we are passionate about helping all consumers have the knowledge and tools for optimal oral health outcomes to treat and prevent future health issues. The call to action presented by the Economist on gum disease prevention is amplified with the important voice of the AAP.”

To read the full Economist Impact report and access patient resources, visit the AAP webpage.


About the American Academy of Periodontology 
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) represents nearly 7,500 periodontists—specialists in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of inflammatory diseases affecting the gums and supporting structures of the teeth, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontics is one of 12 dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.