MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- Researchers found advanced gum disease in 80 percent of adults studied for a major oral health study in Appalachia.
The project by West Virginia University and the University of Pittsburgh tracked 445 families in both states.
Richard Crout, associate dean for research at WVU's School of Dentistry, said the study shows rampant periodontal disease in adults, with signs of bone loss in 85 percent of subjects.
Left untreated, periodontitis can lead to bone destruction, tooth loss and even heart disease or stroke.
West Virginia has the highest rate of tooth loss in the country, with a third of residents 35 or younger having lost at least six permanent teeth.
Crout wants more resources for early dental treatment to instill good oral health habits.