With over 47% of adult Americans having gum disease, it’s important to know your risk for this
oral health condition.
Gum disease has the potential to ruin your smile if left untreated. Gum disease can cause the
ligaments that hold teeth in place to weaken, therefore causing loose teeth. In fact, gum
disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in older adults.
Are you at higher risk for gum disease? Here are a few factors that could lead you to be more
prone to this condition.
You Smoke or Use Tobacco
Smoking and chewing tobacco can irritate the gum tissue and also restrict blood supply to the
gums, which can cause symptoms of gum disease to go unnoticed in smokers and people who
Using tobacco can also inhibit the immune system, making it more likely that if gum disease is
present, it will progress. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum
disease—and using e-cigarettes, which still contain nicotine, isn’t any better.
You’re Genetically Predisposed
Having a family history of gum disease may make you more likely to get the condition. Certain
genes can influence your oral health. Experts speculate that up to 30% of people may be
genetically predisposed to have gum disease.
People who have a family member with the disease may be more likely to have it, so getting
checkups with your dentist to prevent gum disease is important. Even those who don’t have a
family history should still get checkups!
You Take Medications That Cause Dry Mouth
Medications that cause dry mouth or affect hormones can make an individual more likely to
have gum disease. For example, oral contraceptives, high blood pressure medications,
antidepressants, and antihistamines are all part of the hundreds of medications that can affect
the oral cavity.
If you’re on one of these many medications, you may be more susceptible to gum disease. Dry
mouth can make bacteria more likely to stick to your tooth enamel and accumulate around the
gumline, which can cause gum disease.
You Have Diabetes
Patients who have diabetes are also more likely to have gum disease. But why?
There are a few factors that link diabetes to gum disease. High blood sugar levels that come
with unmanaged diabetes can feed bacteria in the oral cavity, making it more likely that you’ll
have plaque that can contribute to gum disease.
In addition, patients with diabetes can have an impacted immune system, making it less likely
that the body would be able to stop gum disease or fight it. If you have diabetes, managing the
condition is essential—as is seeing your dentist!
If you’re seeing signs or experiencing symptoms of gum disease—including red, swollen gums
or bleeding when brushing—be sure to follow up with your dentist. The earlier gum disease is
detected, the easier it is to treat. Your dentist can also talk with you about your risk of getting
gum disease and help you put preventative measures into place to keep your smile healthy!