Most people will develop some form of gum disease at some point in their life, whether the beginning stages of gingivitis or the more severe stage of periodontitis. As noted in our previous blog post “Protect Your Overall Health with Good Oral Hygiene,” your risk of developing the disease can be influenced by factors that you can or cannot control. When you are aware of these risk factors, you have a better chance of preventing gum disease from worsening or happening at all.
See below for 8 common risk factors that can lead to or worsen the disease:
- Genetics: Some people are more vulnerable to gum disease because of their genetic background. Although this can heighten their risk of developing the disease, practicing good oral care can make a significantly positive impact.
- Teeth grinding: Grinding or clenching of the teeth puts stress on them, which can lead to a faster deterioration of the periodontal tissue and bone in people who already have the disease.
- Poor nutrition: Like any part of the body, nutrition plays a key role in keeping your mouth healthy. Eating a healthy diet can keep your immune system functioning properly and prevent nutritional deficiencies that can lead to poor oral health.
- Tobacco use: Smoking significantly increases your risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco is a major cause of why many people are resistant to gum disease treatment. Periodontal pockets are often deeper; more plaque tends to collect on the teeth; and more bone is typically lost as the disease progresses in smokers.
- Stress: Stress can make periodontal disease worse and more difficult to treat. This results from a weakened immune system, lowering the body’s ability to fight infection.
- Hormonal changes: As your hormone levels fluctuate, changes in your mouth can occur including increased inflammation and bleeding. This is especially common in transitional times such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Certain diseases: People suffering from certain diseases, like diabetes, have a much higher risk of developing gum disease and are likely to have a more severe case of it. Conversely, studies have proven that having gum disease can lead to systemic diseases, like heart disease and stroke — called the mouth body connection.
- Medications: Certain medications have the side effect of causing dry mouth. When there isn’t enough saliva in the mouth, plaque buildup is more likely to occur. Additionally, medications can sometimes cause the gums to swell, trapping plaque in the process.
In the end, our experienced periodontist, Dr. Daniel Lauer, encourages patients to do their best to control what risk factors they can and seek a qualified periodontist for further advice on how to prevent or manage gum disease. Should you have any questions, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lauer to discuss how you can protect your oral health.