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Gum disease having devastating impact on general health and well-being warn dentists

Press release issued: 19 March 2018

A new report has revealed that the number of people affected by tooth decay and gum disease is having a widespread and devastating impact not only on patients mouths but also on their general health and wellbeing, particularly in the older population.

The study, led by an international team of periodontists including researchers at the Bristol Dental School at the University of Bristol, reviewed all available data, publishing 15 systematic reviews on the evidence and published consensus findings, and found that ten per cent of the global population -  743 million people - are affected by severe gum disease.

The findings were announced at the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP), the leading global voice on gum health and gum disease and published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, one of the most authoritative scientific publications in this field.

The papers were discussed at the XIII European Workshop of Periodontology, a joint workshop between the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA).

Left untreated, gum disease causes tooth loss and in its more severe forms, periodontitis which is independently associated with increased mortality rates due to a higher risk of atherogenic cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and related complications.

Professor Nicola West, Head of Restorative Dentistry and Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at Bristol Dental School and Hospital, who compiled the consensus findings, said: "The burden of these diseases is high and is increasing as the population ages. Both tooth decay and gum disease can lead to nutritional compromise and negative impact on self-esteem and quality of life. These findings help underline to dental professionals and the public the importance of oral health and that it is often an indicator of general health issues."

The study' recommendations include:

  • Dental professionals should be consulted regularly to prevent and treat caries and periodontal diseases effectively.
  • Bleeding gums are not normal. Dental professionals should be consulted immediately.
  • Periodontal disease should be seen as an indicator of general health issues. 
  • Reducing sugar and starch intake levels and frequency is important in preventing periodontal disease and caries. Intake should be limited to mealtimes.
  • Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste is essential and can also be supplemented with additional effective agents that reduce plaque, such as those found in mouthwash and toothpastes. 


'Proceedings of the 12th European Workshop on Periodontology, "The Boundaries between Caries and Periodontal Diseases". A joint workshop between the European Federation of Periodontology (EFP) and the European Organization for Caries Research (ORCA)', guest editor: Mariano Sanz and Maurizio Tonetti

Further information

World Oral Health Day (WOHD) is celebrated globally every year on 20 March.

About Bristol Dental School
Bristol Dental School is part of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Bristol.

The School is wholly integrated with University of Bristol Dental Hospital, part of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, with which it shares its premises.

We have been training Dental Surgeons since 1906 and Dental Care Professionals (DCPs) since 1949. Our strengths are in equipping students with a core of appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills relevant to clinical dental practice in the 21st century.

Proportionately more of our undergraduates proceed to formal postgraduate training and education than any other UK Dental School, which confirms one of our aims of producing dentists equipped for life-long learning.

We are also the largest provider of DCP training in the United Kingdom, which enables us to enhance all our teaching and learning with emphasis on the dental team.

Following the introduction of a revised BDS programme in 2006 and a £15 million refurbishment project in 2007, we were rated as the top Dental School in the UK in the 2009 and 2010 National Student Survey.

Our research themes are diverse and receive international recognition. We continue to successfully secure grant funding from research councils, charitable organisations and industry, as well as NIHR and the Wellcome Trust. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Bristol was rated as the 5th of all Dental Schools in the UK.

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