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VOLUME 1 , ISSUE 1 ( Fall Issue, 1999 ) > List of Articles


The Concept of “Risk” and the Emerging Discipline of Periodontal Medicine

David W. Paquette, Phoebus Madianos, Steven Offenbacher, James D. Beck, Ray C. Williams

Citation Information : Paquette DW, Madianos P, Offenbacher S, Beck JD, Williams RC. The Concept of “Risk” and the Emerging Discipline of Periodontal Medicine. J Contemp Dent Pract 1999; 1 (1):42-59.

DOI: 10.5005/jcdp-1-1-42

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Published Online: 01-08-2004

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 1999; The Author(s).


Dental clinicians intuitively weigh patient risks for developing disease and use that information for making treatment decisions and recommendations. Periodontitis, for instance, is one oral disease with documented risk factors including smoking, specific plaque bacteria and diabetes mellitus. While this link between systemic disease and periodontitis was thought to be unidirectional, mounting evidence in the last decade suggests that the relationship may be bi-directional. Cross sectional and case control studies indicate that periodontitis may confer two and seven-fold elevations in risk for cardiovascular disease and premature low birth weight respectively. While these early studies indicate potential associations between oral and systemic health, they support the central hypothesis that periodontitis triggers both local and systemic host inflammatory responses. Consequently, a new discipline, periodontal medicine, has emerged in dentistry which seeks to further define these interrelationships through scientific inquiry. Ultimately, this new knowledge may prove useful in intervention strategies to reduce patient risks and prevent systemic disease outcomes. This manuscript clarifies the concept of risk, traces the emergence of periodontal medicine and serves as a resource for the oral health professional in assessing and utilizing the current evidence on periodontal-systemic disease connections.

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