Nearly 50% of adults over the age of 30 have some level of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease and describes a condition related to chronic infection and inflammation of the gums. In minor cases you may experience inflammation and bleeding, but untreated periodontal disease can cause your teeth to fall out. Let’s look at some gum disease risk factors.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
For this reason, as well as the connections found between gum disease and other serious health conditions, it is important to consider your risk factors and take steps to mitigate them when possible.
Age is one of the most reliable predictors for periodontal disease. At age 65, about 70% of people have some form of periodontal disease. This statistic is likely the result of two independent factors. First, natural saliva production decreases with age, making it easier for bacteria to take hold. Second, individuals who have taken less than perfect care of their teeth are more likely to see the compounded effects by age 65.
The role of genetics in this case isn’t perfectly understood. Correlations have been observed that suggest some families are more likely to struggle with periodontal disease even when they are practicing good oral hygiene at home. This is pretty rare, but you can talk to your periodontist in Los Angeles about mitigating strategies if you’re concerned that genetics may be playing a role in your gum disease.
Smoking, especially tobacco, is associated with a whole host of risks, and periodontal disease is among them. When you smoke, you’re exposing your body to a laundry list of chemicals. These chemicals actively weaken your immune system, which makes it harder for your body to fight dangerous pathogens. That includes the bacteria that cause gum disease. The good news is that you don’t even have to quit entirely to reduce your risks. Cutting down on your smoking does benefit you even if you aren’t able or ready to quit entirely right now.
Stress is always the big one. When our cortisol is elevated, our body prioritizes what it deems as necessary functions for the “fight or flight” response. That means your immune system, digestive system, and even your reproductive systems take a major hit. Fortunately, stress is manageable. If you notice you’re having difficulty sleeping, getting sick regularly, or are having regular digestive issues, then you’re likely dealing with excess stress. Try to mitigate your stress by improving your sleep hygiene, your diet, and working on personal and professional boundaries.
Some medications do make it harder for your gums to fight infection. These may include some oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and cardiac medications. Whenever you start a new medication regimen that will last more than a week or two, you should consider touching base with your local periodontist to see if that medication is likely to affect your oral health. It may sound preemptive, but your periodontist will help you to find the best techniques for protecting your oral health.
By physical strain, we are referring to jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Although these behaviors do the most damage to the cusps of your teeth, it can reach far beyond that by stressing the surrounding tissues. Of course, clenching and grinding do not cause periodontal disease. Still, by weakening the tissues affected by these infections both behaviors have the ability to increase the efficacy of the infection.
Our bodies need nutrients to maintain homeostasis and fight off potential invaders. Without a proper diet, your defenses may suffer. Keep in mind, many people grow up with very little understanding of what constitutes good nutrition. There is no shame in talking to your doctor about your diet in order to take better care of your body.
Dealing with Periodontal Disease
Unfortunately, there are millions of people who are already dealing with moderate to severe periodontal disease, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for you if you’re one of them. Modern advances, including the pinhole surgical technique in Los Angeles, allow periodontists to effectively rebuild gum tissue in areas where it has begun to recede. By repairing gum tissue and healing the underlying infection, your local periodontist can help you get your healthy smile back.