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Am I at Risk of Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, refers to an infection within the gum tissue. About half of American adults suffer from this disease, which often presents with inflammation of the gums in its early stages. But they may not realize this can cause major damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw without prompt treatment from a dentist.

This infection is common, but some patients are more susceptible to gum disease than others. Knowing the risk factors of this infection can help you best protect your smile. Read on to learn about three conditions that could give you a higher chance of contracting gum disease.

balance oral bacteria to protect gum health

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

Aggressive Oral Bacteria

Your mouth naturally contains bacteria. You practice oral hygiene to get rid of the plaque it forms and to stop it from spreading to infect your gums and other areas of the mouth. But some people might develop aggressive oral bacteria.

The cause of this is unclear. But if this occurs, your usual oral hygiene routine might not stop the bacteria from infecting your gums. In these cases, you should speak to your dentist to find specialized and individualized preventative dental care that can protect your smile.

They might suggest using a special toothpaste or toothbrush that can work to balance oral bacteria better than your regular regimen. An antibacterial mouthwash can also work to prevent bacteria from infecting your gums.

Underlying Health Conditions

Health factors like age, genetics, and certain medications can impact your gum health. For instance, people over the age of 65 could have a 70% higher chance of contracting gum disease according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis might also increase the risk of gum disease. These illnesses create inflammation in the body which could make you susceptible to infections. The inverse is also true in that gum disease inflames the gum tissue which can compromise your overall health.

Other changes in the body, like pregnancy or hormonal fluctuations, can make the gums more prone to infection too. To best protect your gums, you should discuss your medical history with your dentist. They can determine how these factors affect your dental care.

Poor Oral Habits

Over time, your lifestyle and chronic habits can impact your oral health. Smoking and otherwise using tobacco products can worsen gum inflammation and make it harder for tissue to heal within the mouth. This makes the gums more vulnerable to infections.

The diet also plays a role in gum health, so eat nutritious foods with plenty of vitamin C. This keeps the immune system working effectively to better fight infections like gum disease.

You could still have a risk of gum disease if you do not use proper brushing and flossing techniques when practicing oral hygiene. Do not rush through your regimen. Make sure to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly and attend routine teeth cleanings and oral exams with your dentist.