Periodontal health status in a cohort of young US Navy personnel

J Public Health Dent. Winter 2007;67(1):49-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.2007.00008.x.


Objectives: Neither the prevalence of periodontal disease nor long-term trends in periodontal health among US military personnel has been well studied. The authors analyzed dental records to assess the prevalence and severity of periodontal disease, characterize changes in periodontal health, and determine the associations of age, race, gender, and tobacco use with periodontal status among US Navy personnel.

Methods: Dental records from 1,107 personnel who entered military service in 1997 were gathered from eight US Navy dental treatment facilities. Demographic information, tobacco use status, and periodontal health status, as reflected by the Periodontal Screening and Recording (PSR) information recorded at each required dental examination during the 4-year observational period (1997 to 2001), were collected. To improve sensitivity in measuring the extent of periodontal disease, the standard five-point PSR scale was reexpressed as a "PSR grade."

Results: Over 98 percent of Navy recruits exhibited some level of periodontal disease at initial examination. Most (76 percent) exhibited gingivitis of varying severity. Over a mean observational period of 3.4 years, 91 percent of subjects received at least one oral prophylaxis, and over 60 percent received two to four prophylaxes. Subjects with severe periodontal conditions received as many as 22 appointments for prophylaxis or periodontal therapy. From initial to final examination, periodontal status improved for 29.2 percent of subjects, deteriorated for 31.3 percent, and remained unchanged for 39.5 percent. Subjects presenting initially with healthy periodontia, or gingivitis without evidence of periodontitis, tended to deteriorate or remain unchanged, while those exhibiting periodontitis tended to improve with periodontal therapy. Race (non-White) and greater age at entry were significantly associated with increased risk for poorer periodontal health at both initial and final examination.

Conclusions: Although a needs-based dental care model appears effective in managing periodontal disease among those receiving active therapy, patients who receive sporadic care may deteriorate over time. To maintain periodontal health in this population, appropriate preventive and periodontal therapies should be provided soon after entry and repeated at intervals specific to individual patient need.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dental Prophylaxis / statistics & numerical data
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Periodontal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Periodontal Index
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Smoking
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • United States / epidemiology