Oral health

Strengthening the prevention of periodontal disease: the WHO approach

This article is used with the permission of the American Academy of Periodontology

J Periodontol 2005;76:2187-2193
Poul Erik Petersen and Hiroshi Ogawa
Global Oral Health Program, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.


The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the burden of periodontal disease in adult populations worldwide, to emphasize the essential risk factors common to periodontal disease and chronic diseases, to outline important new strategies for effective prevention of periodontal disease, and to inform about the role of the World Health Organization (WHO) in developing a national capacity for the prevention of disease.


Information about periodontal health status as measured by the Community Periodontal Index system is stored in the WHO Global Oral Health Data Bank. Updated information concerning WHO standard age groups was used to describe the prevalence rates of signs of periodontal disease, i.e., gingival bleeding, periodontal pocketing, and loss of attachment.


Gingival bleeding is highly prevalent among adult populations in all regions of the world; advanced disease with deep periodontal pockets (6 mm or more) affects; 10% to 15% of adults worldwide. The available evidence shows that important risk factors for periodontal disease relate to poor oral hygiene, tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, and diabetes mellitus. Integrated preventive strategies based on the common risk factors approach are recommended for public health practice.


The vast majority of countries need to establish a surveillance system for measuring progress in the control of periodontal disease and promotion of oral health. WHO has designed approaches for the integration of oral disease prevention within the prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases, and global strategies are currently being implemented in all regions of the world.