14 Jan Factors That Increase Risk of Developing Gum Disease
Periodontal disease and gingivitis (collectively known as Gum disease) are diseases of the supporting tissues of the teeth.
Gum diseased is caused by a combination of accumulation of certain bacteria and other microorganisms (plaque) in the gum area and the response of the body’s immune system to those microbes.
Some people have an increased susceptibility to gum disease due to their body’s response to the bacteria, but this does not mean that gum disease cannot prevented and treated successfully.
There are also lifestyle choices that can increase susceptibility to gum disease e.g., smoking. Smoking increases the risk of developing gum disease in 2 ways. Firstly, because sticky tar deposits from smoke on teeth surfaces attract plaque more readily, and secondly the nicotine in cigarette smoke constricts blood vessels which in turn reduces the body’s ability to heal by reducing blood supply to the gums. While vaping does not contain the toxic tar and chemicals that are in cigarette smoke, it still contains relatively high levels of nicotine and other chemicals that may have the potential to cause tissue damage.
Medical research has shown that periodontal disease increases the risk of developing other serious diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Diabetes is itself a risk factor for developing gum disease.
There is a strong correlation between poorly controlled diabetes and poorly controlled gum disease, so limiting the amount of sugar in your diet is important. Sugar is known to increase inflammation in the body and Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. A high sugar diet increases the rate of growth of bacteria plaque in the mouth and increases the risk of developing type two diabetes.
Research has also shown a correlation between periodontal disease and a poor outcome from Covid infection.
Another important factor is stress. Stress can affect the immune system and reduce the body’s ability to fight infection.
Getting sufficient good quality sleep is another important factor in helping your body to fight disease.
There also appears to be a correlation between the onset of menopause and progression of periodontal disease in some women.
Periodontal disease causes loss of the supporting tissues of the teeth (periodontal ligament and bone) which can lead to unsightly gum recession, mobility and loss of teeth and bad breath. The gums can become swollen and bleed easily and you may notice that the gums start to recede exposing the root which can become sensitive. It is important to note that healthy gums do not bleed. Receding gums are also a cosmetic problem when it affects the front teeth. Teeth which lose bone support may also start to drift and gaps may appear between the teeth. As pockets deepen, periodontal abscesses may develop causing pain and swelling. Exposed root surfaces are also more susceptible to root decay.
Gingivitis is considered to be a reversible inflammation of the gums where there is no loss of attachment or bone. Gingivitis can be a precursor to periodontal disease and can be treated by your dentist or dental hygienist at regular dental check-ups and dental hygiene appointments.
When assessing risk of losing teeth and risks to patient health from gum disease, we consider the oral hygiene, the risk factors such as smoking and other pre-existing diseases and the age of the patient.