Gingival recession, gingival bleeding, and dental calculus in adults 30 years of age and older in the United States, 1988-1994

J Periodontol. 1999 Jan;70(1):30-43. doi: 10.1902/jop.1999.70.1.30.


Background: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and extent of gingival recession, gingival bleeding, and dental calculus in United States adults, using data collected in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III).

Methods: The study group consisted of 9,689 persons 30 to 90 years of age obtained by a stratified, multi-stage probability sampling method in 1988 to 1994. The weighted sample is representative of U.S. adults 30 years or older and represents approximately 105.8 million civilian, non-institutionalized Americans. Gingival recession, gingival bleeding, and dental calculus were assessed at the mesio-buccal and mid-buccal surfaces in 2 randomly selected quadrants, one maxillary and one mandibular. Data analysis accounted for the complex sampling design used.

Results: We estimate that 23.8 million persons have one or more tooth surfaces with > or = 3 mm gingival recession; 53.2 million have gingival bleeding; 97.1 million have calculus; and 58.3 million have subgingival calculus; and the corresponding percentages are 22.5%, 50.3%, 91.8%, and 55.1% of persons, respectively. The prevalence, extent, and severity of gingival recession increased with age, as did the prevalence of subgingival calculus and the extent of teeth with calculus and gingival bleeding. Males had significantly more gingival recession, gingival bleeding, subgingival calculus, and more teeth with total calculus than females. Of the 3 race/ethnic groups studied, non-Hispanic blacks had the highest prevalence and extent of gingival recession and dental calculus, whereas Mexican Americans had the highest prevalence and extent of gingival bleeding. Mexican Americans had similar prevalence and extent of gingival recession compared with non-Hispanic whites. Gingival recession was much more prevalent and also more severe at the buccal than the mesial surfaces of teeth. Gingival bleeding also was more prevalent at the buccal than mesial surfaces, whereas calculus was most often present at the mesial than buccal surfaces.

Conclusions: Dental calculus, gingival bleeding, and gingival recession are common in the U.S. adult population. In addition to their unfavorable effect on esthetics and self-esteem, these conditions also are associated with destructive periodontal diseases and root caries. Appropriate measures to prevent or control these conditions are desirable, and this may also be effective in improving the oral health of the U.S. adult population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Dental Calculus / epidemiology*
  • Dental Calculus / ethnology
  • Dental Health Surveys
  • Female
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / epidemiology*
  • Gingival Hemorrhage / ethnology
  • Gingival Recession / epidemiology*
  • Gingival Recession / ethnology
  • Gingivitis / epidemiology*
  • Gingivitis / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Periodontal Index
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Ratio
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data