In the US close to 50% of adults over the age of 30 are impacted by periodontal disease. That percentage jumps to 70% in adults 65 and older. With these numbers in mind, it’s obvious that periodontal disease, ranging from slight to severe, is very prevalent in our society. So, what are some of the factors that increase our risk for developing periodontal disease and what risks can we mitigate? There are many risk factors that impact whether or not someone will develop periodontal disease over their lifetime, but this post will be looking at some of the most common causes.
The number one risk factor for developing periodontal disease is tobacco use of any kind. Smokers specifically are twice as likely as non-smokers to be impacted. Tobacco use weakens the overall immune system making it harder for your body to fight the infection of gum disease. Even after gum therapy, if you continue to smoke, your gums may not heal as well.
You can take an in-depth look at the correlation between diabetes and periodontal disease in this post How this works is; uncontrolled blood sugar can increase the severity of periodontal disease AND active periodontal disease makes it more difficult to regulate blood sugar. The body’s overall inflammatory response contributes to the link going both ways.
Based on genetics; if you’ve had family members who have lost teeth due to periodontal disease you may be more at risk. At its core periodontal disease is caused by bacteria and we all have different kinds of bacteria in the oral cavity. Someone with more disease causing bacteria will be more at risk. Others may have a different salivary chemistry that causes more tartar buildup. Still other people may have a thinner gum tissue that is less resistant to disease. All of these are inherent risk factors, meaning they aren’t something we can change to decrease our risk.
Poor Oral Health
As we well know now, periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. Without good homecare habits and regular wellness visits to your dentist, it may not take long for periodontal disease to develop. The goal is to consistently be disrupting the environment of the bacteria. This is achieved by mechanically removing plaque with brushing and flossing AND killing bacteria with a mouthrinse. Even with pristine homecare, tartar will eventually develop, that’s why it’s imperative to see your hygienist regularly to disrupt this other bacteria safe haven. With all this disruption it is much more difficult for bacteria to make a sound home and for the disease to develop and cause bone loss.
Other risk factors for periodontal disease include but are not limited to:
- Poor Nutrition/Obesity
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Clenching/Grinding Teeth
American Academy of Periodontology