Do You Have a High Risk Factor for Gum Disease?
By Dr. Anasinski
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there are certain factors that create a higher probability that a person will develop periodontal disease. Since gum disease is a condition that can exist without you even knowing you have it, being aware of the common risk factors associated with the disease can help you manage it if not prevent it all together.
Poor Dental Hygiene Habits
Not brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day leaves your mouth extremely susceptible to gum disease because plaque that isn’t removed begins to build up in your mouth. When plaque is left undisturbed, it turns to tartar (also known as calculus) which manifests as hard deposits that build up on your teeth and under your gum line. These deposits create pockets where bacteria and particles can gather and become infected. While plaque can be removed with brushing, tartar can only be removed by a dentist using specialized tools.
Lack of Professional Dental Cleanings
As mentioned above, when tartar forms in your mouth, the only way it can be removed is with a professional dental cleaning. If these cleanings are not performed at least twice a year, the tartar buildup can lead to gum infections and disease.
Research shows that periodontal disease is most prevalent in older people. Some of the reasons behind these statistics is that maintaining good oral hygiene habits can become more difficult as we age because of physical problems and challenges such as arthritis or lack of mobility. Larger handles on tooth brushes or battery operated toothbrushes are often a good choice for senior citizens.
Being a Woman
Because of the hormonal fluctuations and changes that your body goes through during different phases of your life, if you are a woman you are more susceptible to periodontal problems than your male counterparts. Even though women in general take better care of their teeth, the simple fact of being female creates a higher risk factor for gum disease.
Use of Tobacco Products
If you are a smoker or use tobacco products of any kind, you have a high probability of having gum disease sometime in your lifetime because studies indicate that tobacco use is one of the highest risk factors associated with periodontal disease.
Family Members with Periodontal Disease
There are two possible risk factors that exist for you if members of your family have or have had gum disease. First of all, studies show that as high as 30% of the population can be up to six times more likely to develop periodontal disease, so you could be genetically predisposed to contracting gum disease. The other factor involved is that the bacteria that cause gum disease can pass through saliva which can contribute to the risk factors for children and couples in households where one member has periodontal disease.
Saliva is important for good oral health because it helps to manage bacteria that can contribute to gum disease, and some medications can reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth. Without enough saliva to keep bad bacteria at bay, they can flourish and cause periodontal problems.
Having a higher risk factor does not mean you are predestined to have gum disease, it simply means that you need to be much more vigilant with daily oral hygiene as well as visits to a dentist. The more you understand about your particular risk factors, the more you can take steps to help reduce your susceptibility to periodontal disease or other oral health problems.