Most people have at least one case of mild gum disease during their lifetime. In the UK, it is estimated that 50-90% of the adult population has some degree of gum disease.
Each year in the UK, there are six cases of severe periodontitis for every 100,000 people. Aggressive or early-onset periodontitis, where severe periodontitis is present before 35 years of age, affects 1-2% of the population.
ANUG is rare and usually only affects people with a weakened immune system (the body’s natural defence system) or people who are malnourished (do not eat enough nutrients to maintain good health).
A mild case of gum disease can usually be successfully treated with good oral hygiene. This should include brushing the teeth twice a day (in the morning and last thing at night) and flossing at least three times a week.
If gum disease is not treated, it can develop into periodontitis or, in severe cases, ANUG. These conditions can cause more serious complications, such as painful sores, which can destroy parts of the gums, and loose and unstable teeth.
For men, especially older men, dieting may help reduce the risk of gum disease more than for women, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and other institutions.
The study, published in the journal Nutrition, also provides the latest clue to a powerful link between chronic inflammation and poor health, according to Mark Reynolds, DDS, PhD, associate professor at the Dental School, part of UMB.
"Chronic inflammation appears to be an important factor underlying aging and many age-related disorders, and dietary restriction has been shown to reduce the risk for chronic disease and promote longevity in multiple animal models," says Reynolds, who is chair of the Department of periodontics at the School.
The study, of 81 rhesus monkeys at the National Institutes of Health, showed that males fed a diet of 30 percent fewer calories for 13 to 17 years had significantly lower levels of a gum-damaging condition known as periodontal pocketing, less immune response to invading bacteria, and higher inflammatory molecules than males fed a normal diet. Periodontal inflammation and disease start from bacteria.
Also, for the monkeys not fed the reduced-calorie diet, males showed "significantly greater periodontal breakdown" than females. Consistent with previous studies of humans, the monkeys in the study showed an increasing degree of gum problems as they aged.