Dental Tribune Asia Pacific

Study confirms Asians are at greater risk of periodontal disease

By Dental Tribune International
April 03, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., USA: Ethnicity has long been thought to play a role in the susceptibility of patients to gingival recession. A new study from the US has now offered new evidence for the clinical assumption that Asians are more prone to attachment loss owing to their unique dental and gingival morphology.

In a clinical evaluation measuring the length of teeth and roots from dental radiographs, students and clinicians from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) found a high incidence of shorter root lengths and forms in Asian populations, which they suggest represents a larger risk of attachment loss. In addition, a high percentage of the patients exhibited a thin gingival biotype with a gingival width of between only 3 and 5 mm.

Overall, 49 patients from Japan, China, South Korea and Vietnam were observed in the study with no significant pattern deviation between the various ethnic Asian groups.

According to the researchers, the recent findings are in line with data reported by Stanley Nelson and Major Ash in 2010, who found similar tooth–root ratios to those in the UCSF study. Combined with a thin gingival biotype, patients with such a short root morphology might be at greater risk of periodontal destruction and developing periodontal disease, they stated. They said that dental practitioners should consider these factors when monitoring and treating periodontal disease in Asian patients. In particular, “a clinician’s standard accepted level of attachment loss for various stages of periodontal disease may need to be adjusted for the shorter root length of Asian patients,” they advise in the report.

A higher incidence of periodontal problems in Asian populations has previously been linked to factors like poor oral hygiene and inadequate access to oral health care.

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