FDI global project puts a necessary focus on periodontal diseases

12 May 2021

The FDI World Dental Federation’s Global Periodontal Health Project (GPHP), launched in October 2015, is dedicated to raising the profile of periodontal health which world dentistry’s peak body admits “is often overlooked during daily oral health routines."

50% of the global adult population suffer from periodontal diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, making them among the globe’s most common health conditions.

This is certainly the case in Australia with Australia’s Adult Oral Health Tracker, a joint initiative of the ADA and the Australia Health Policy Collaboration, observing that “oral diseases are among the most common and costly to Australians and the healthcare system.”

In Australia, 28.8% of adults aged fifteen years and over currently have periodontal pockets (>4mm), which represents a 9% increase from 2004/06 figures. 

Similarly, the White Paper on Prevention and Management of Periodontal Diseases for Oral Health and General Health (the White Paper) released in 2017 and available at fdiworlddental.org, notes that “47% of the USA population over 30 years of age suffer from periodontitis, including 8.7% with mild, 30.0% with moderate and 8.5% with severe periodontitis. (1)”

Further, the White Paper says:

“Notably, the recent systematic reviews of the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) in 2010 that use a large dataset of 291,170 individuals (aged 15–99) from 37 different countries show that severe periodontitis is the sixth most prevalent among all 291 diseases and conditions investigated, affecting 11.2% of the global population, or 743 million people. (2, 3) ”

Dissecting these figures, the White Paper observed that “the overall prevalence of severe periodontitis increases with age, having a marked increase between the third and fourth decades of life, and reaching peak prevalence at the age of 38 years (4)” with severe periodontitis resulting in substantial socio-economic impacts that account for a total global cost of some $US54 billion annually (5).

Effect on overall health

As the May 2021 News Bulletin cover story on periodontal diseases outlined, these health conditions have proven connections to a wide range of systemic illnesses so addressing diseases of the gum can have a substantial effect on a person’s overall health.

The GPHP acknowledges this, noting that “periodontal disease … is closely associated with other diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, with which it shares common risk factors, e.g. unhealthy diet and tobacco use.”

The White Paper elaborated further on this salient point, noting:

“Currently, up to 57 diseases and conditions have been studied with regards to their connection with periodontitis (6). Among them, a strong level of evidence, based on biological plausibility models, epidemiological studies and/or intervention studies, is available for diabetes (7), cardiovascular diseases  (8) and adverse pregnancy outcomes (9), while emerging evidence has also been published for other relevant conditions (10).”

Addressing the problem

With some serious health outcomes affecting people worldwide, the aim of GPHP is to raise awareness of periodontal diseases among the public, oral health and other health professionals, educators, policymakers so people fully appreciate their impact.

The goals of the GPHP are as follows:

1. Increase global awareness of periodontal health

2. Provide tools and resources to help reduce the disease burden and raise the priority of periodontal health at the national level

3. Integrate oral/periodontal health into policies addressing general health and NCDs by taking a common risk factor approach

To help dentists and other dental professionals with assessing a patient’s risk of periodontal disease and then to categorise their periodontal disease profile as low, medium and high, a range of tools have been developed including an Inline Disease Profile Assessment Tool and a Periodontal Prevention and Patient Management Tool – Tutorial, both of which are available at Global periodontal health project

In addition to these tools, the White Paper reviews prevention and treatment of periodontal diseases, as well as assessing the current problems and challenges and recommended actions to address them.