Risk Factors for Gum Disease
The following are risk factors that you may be able to control to reduce your chance of developing gingivitis or progressing to periodontitis. If gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, serious problems including tooth loss can occur.
Poor Oral Health
Be sure to brush and floss your teeth, gums, and tongue daily, and make regular visits to Dr. Weinstein and your general dentist.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
It's long been established that smoking and tobacco use (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco) increases the risk of cancer, lung disease, heart disease, and other serious health problems, but did you know it is also a recognized risk factor for gum disease? Not only does tobacco use increase the occurrence of gum disease, it can also hinder the healing process by decreasing your ability to fight infection in your gums.
A diet lacking in vitamins and minerals makes it more difficult for your immune system to fight infection. Too many sugary foods and carbohydrates increase the production of plaque, which is the underlying cause of gum disease.
You have a higher likelihood of developing gum disease if it runs in your family. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to gum disease. If your close family members have gum disease, be extremely diligent in your home care and your dental visits.
Women experience hormonal fluctuations during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, which can affect tissues in the body, including gums. Increased sensitivity in the gums can create a higher susceptibility to gum disease. Pay special attention to daily oral care and make regular visits to the dentist.
No matter what the cause (work, finances, depression, etc.), living in a state of stress can make it difficult for the body to fight off infection, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Stress is also a contributing factor to teeth grinding and clenching which can accelerate the rate of tissue damage with gum disease.
Some drugs - including certain types of anti-depressants, heart medications, anticonvulsants, steroids, chemotherapy, oral contraceptives, and other medications - can affect your oral health. Drugs that lessen the flow of saliva can leave your teeth less protected than normal, and drugs that cause abnormal tissue growth can have an adverse effect on your gums. Be sure your dentist is aware of any medications you are taking.
Any illness that interferes with the immune system's ability to fight infection - such as diabetes, leukemia or AIDS - can leave you more susceptible to gum disease. Additionally, uncontrolled diabetes can increase your risk for gum disease and gum disease may decrease your ability to control your diabetes. Take special care to brush and floss daily and make regular visits to the dentist.