The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is dental plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums by modifying how your body responds to the presence of plaque and bacteria.
Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis.
Tobacco use has been unequivocally linked to numerous serious health conditions such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, just to name a few. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Tobacco use has been shown to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of active periodontal disease. Smoking camouflages the presence of gum disease by not allowing the gums to show the initial sign of the infection – bleeding gums. For this reason, if you smoke, you may not even be aware that you have a serious gum problem.
Research has indicated that some people may be genetically predisposed to gum disease and it may even run in the family. Despite aggressive home oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease even as a young age. Early identification of those with a genetic susceptibility to the development of gum disease is key to good long term maintenance and future prevention. If a young patient develops aggressive periodontitis, their siblings need to be check and carefully monitored to prevent their disease development.
Stress has shown to be linked to many serious health conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress also is a known risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress will modify and potentially hinder how your body can fight off an infection, including periodontal disease.
Certain prescribed medications, such as oral contraceptives, immunosuppressants, anti-depressants, anticonvulsants and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your health care professionals of all medications you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dentist of the same.
Clenching or grinding your teeth will unnecessarily stress the supporting tissues of the teeth and may speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues (mostly bone) are destroyed. Several treatment options are available to prevent and treat this problem.
Periodontal disease is a chronic reactive disease. It is caused by your immune response to the presence of bacterial toxins. Other systemic diseases that interfere with your body's immune system may worsen the condition of the gums. Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis are mostly frequent culprits.
A diet poor in key nutrients can compromise the body's immune response and make it harder for the body to fight off simple infections. Because periodontal disease is an infective condition, poor nutrition can affect the onset and progression of your gum disease. In addition, recent research has shown that obesity may increase the risk for development of periodontal disease.