Dental Hygienists and Periodontists Highlight Dangers of Gum Disease

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The California Dental Hygienists' Association (CDHA), The California Society of Periodontists, and the Orange County Dental Society are working together to bring legislative recognition to the oral and systemic risks of Gum Disease

Dental Hygienists and Periodontists see first-hand the terrible and costly impacts of periodontal disease left unchecked.

Working with the California Dental Hygienists’ Association, the California Society of Periodontists, and the Orange County Dental Society, the California Legislature has introduced a Resolution declaring March as Periodontal Disease Awareness Month. Periodontal Disease, also referred to as Gum Disease, affects the bone, tissue, and other supporting structures of the teeth. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to oral and systemic infections, and eventually, tooth loss.

“Policy makers, and the public at large, should better understand the impact of periodontal disease, especially to aging populations, and the costs associated with allowing the disease to progress,” states Julie Coan, RDH, MPH, President of California Dental Hygienists’ Association.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about half of U.S. adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. 80% of Americans will be afflicted with periodontal disease by age 45, and 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it. (

In California alone, this number is estimated to range from 46 to 47% of the population. The CDC also reports that periodontal disease disproportionately affects ethnic minorities, those of lower socio-economic status, and those in areas with limited access to dental care; of which California has many.

Periodontal disease significantly correlates with an increased risk and/or worsening of many serious medical conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and even certain cancers.

Research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that the treatment of periodontal disease for those with chronic illnesses resulted in better health outcomes and reduced overall healthcare spending and inpatient hospital admissions.

“Dental Hygienists and Periodontists see first-hand the terrible and costly impacts of periodontal disease left unchecked. We are glad to join forces with dental hygienists to educate the public and policy makers about periodontal disease prevention and treatment,” states Nick Caplanis, DMD, MS, President, California Society of Periodontists.

Astoundingly, the California Department of Health Care Services recently reduced the Denti-Cal reimbursement rate by almost 60% for the ongoing treatment required for people with periodontal disease. CDHA and the California Society of Periodontists have sought out legislative recognition of the disease to raise awareness among the public and policy makers.

“As Vice Chair of Senate Health Committee, I am pleased to introduce this resolution which highlights this often overlooked, costly and preventable disease,” said State Senator Janet Nguyen, representative of California’s 34th District and author of the resolution declaring March as Periodontal Disease Awareness Month. “As an advocate for preventative care, I think it is important that we not only raise awareness regarding preventable diseases but also ensure that residents have access to quality dental care. With this goal in mind, I will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen the Denti-Cal program, including increasing reimbursement rates for providers.”

The California Dental Hygienists’ Association (CDHA) is the authoritative voice of the state’s dental hygiene profession. The organization was established over 30 years ago when two regional associations merged to form a unified professional group. CDHA represents thousands of dental hygienists in the state of California.

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