Gum disease is an oral condition where gums become inflamed due to bacterial infection. If untreated, gum disease may lead to periodontitis where gum and bone tissue waste away and teeth loss eventually happens. Gum disease and periodontitis at a later stage are the leading causes of teeth loss in adults today. While gum disease can affect anyone, there are clusters of people who are especially at risk of developing gum disease. Here are some common gum disease risk factors.
Age is a major risk factor in getting gum disease. This is due to a variety of reasons. First, elderly people are more likely to have medical conditions that make them susceptible to gum disease. These conditions include diabetes which is strongly correlated with gum disease incidence. Elderly people are also likely to have weaker bones and thus bone loss for them happens much faster than in younger people. Finally, senior citizens might not be able to adhere to a strict oral hygiene regime, especially if they are unable to operate without assistance. It is estimated that over 70% of Americans who are 65 years and above have periodontitis.
Smoking and general use of tobacco products are strongly linked to the occurrence of gum disease and periodontitis. It is thought that nicotine in tobacco causes constriction of blood vessels in the gums and which in turn causes the gums to recede. This makes gum tissue more vulnerable to bacterial infections while at the same time making it easier for the infection to spread to the root of the tooth.
Scientists have established that some individuals are genetically predisposed to gum disease. Understanding this risk can allow individuals (for example those with a family history of gum disease) to adopt aggressive oral hygiene practices and ensure that any infections are treated as early as possible.
Living a stressful lifestyle can predispose an individual to gum disease. This is because stress weakens the immune system and makes that individual susceptible to many infections including gum disease.
Some medication such as for hypertension and heart conditions can affect your oral health and make you susceptible to gum disease. For example, some hypertension drugs lead to less saliva production in the mouth. Saliva is a crucial part of the body’s natural defense against bacterial infections and a reduction of saliva increases the likelihood of bacterial infections and gum disease.
Destructive habits such as grinding or clenching teeth can gradually destroy the supporting tissue around the teeth. This makes the development and spread of gum disease much faster than it ordinarily would. Good oral health is the first step in keeping gum disease at bay. This starts with regular checks and treatment by an experienced dentist such as Dr. Alex Rubinov, who is one of the leading dentists in New York City. Get in touch with his practice at (718) 253-0800 for an appointment.