Gum disease is a huge hot topic in dentistry today. With the onset of corporate dentistry, it seems like periodontal disease is the biggest point of contention between dentists, and hygienists alike. Dentists will never agree on the subject, some studies say that 85% of Americans have gum disease, and some reports say that the number is closer to 60 percent. That is a very wide gap, but on the low end, that is still 60% of all Americans that have some sort of periodontal disease. There are numerous factors contributing to gum infection like age, genetics, smoking, and gender. But some contributing factors may come as a surprise to you. The top nine factors that come as somewhat of a surprise are:
Many systemic diseases have been linked to periodontal disease with the biggest being diabetes and heart disease. Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. Some studies have shown tha the inflammation associated with gum disease can contribute to heart disease as well.
Other diseases that have been linked to periodontal disease are osteoporosis, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Also, post-menopausal women have an 86% higher chance to develop gum disease.
Studies have shown that certain types of oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and heart medication have a side effect of gingival overgrowth, which can be a contributing factor of gum disease. Also, any drug that has a side effect of dry mouth can increase the risk for gum disease. We will get into this a little later.
Clenching and grinding teeth together breaks down the fibers and bone that hold teeth in place, and can speed up the rate at which the gum tissue is destroyed.
A diet low in fruits and vegetables can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection, and because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Studies have shown that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less makes you 3 times more susceptible to periodontal disease.
Stress affects the immune system, which fights against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, making you much more prone to gum disease. Studies have shown that those at greatest risk for gum disease were those who were highly emotional in dealing with financial problems.
Dry mouth irritates the gums which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Without saliva protecting the teeth and gums, tooth decay and gum disease become more common. Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, and diuretics are the most common cause of dry-mouth. Dry-mouth has also been linked to pregnancy and menopause as well.
Oral hygiene habits are the number one contributor to gum disease. If you don’t have good oral hygiene habits, then none of these other factors really matter. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist and hyginist are the first line of defense against periodontal disease. These are also the only ways to fight gum disease or to get your mouth healthy again if you already have gum disease.
Our hygienists are trained and highly skilled in the area of periodontal disease detection and prevention. They both would be happy to go through your medical history with you, assess your risk factors, and help you in your fight against gum disease, call or click here to make an appointment today!