If you’ve read this blog before or paid attention to dentistry in the last few years, you probably heard about periodontal disease. As you might already know, periodontal disease is a huge oral health problem. It’s also widely misunderstood. I see patients all the time who are struggling with periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. So many patients have no idea how their gum disease develops or what puts them at a high risk.

Today I want to give you that information and let you know if you’re one of the millions of people who face a higher risk of gum disease.

The unfortunate truth is that none of us are immune to gum disease. Some studies suggest that has many has 75 percent of all people will struggle with gum disease at some point in their lives. That’s a big problem, as gum disease is biggest cause of tooth loss in adults. And even while gum disease is so common, there are certain risks that increase your chances of having this invasive problem.

How does gum disease develop?

Gum disease occurs when an infection is present in the gums. An infection is caused by bacteria that gets trapped between teeth or beneath the gum line. Gum disease can spread throughout the mouth quickly. The earliest stages of gum disease can be reversed, but unfortunately, the advanced stages of gum disease are not curable. Advanced gum disease typically creates an infectious pocket between the teeth and gums. If left untreated, the problem will continue down into the bone, causing the bone to erode. Patients with gum disease are advised to visit the dentist about once every three to four months to make sure the problem has not advanced in the mouth.

Who’s at risk of gum disease?
Anyone can be stricken with gum disease. It’s possible to have gum disease and have no known risks, but here are a few groups that face a higher risk of gum disease.

Women are more likely than men to struggle with gum disease. This risk is because of hormonal changes that occur throughout a woman’s life. Hormonal changes that come with menopause or pregnancy. Gum disease is so common in pregnant women that we dentist have a name for it: pregnancy gingivitis. As the woman goes through hormonal changes, the inflammation levels in the body increase.

People diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease. Diabetes is a serious overall health problem, but it turns out that it can affect your mouth, too. While there is no evidence that a cause-and-effect relationship exists between gum disease and diabetes, the problem of diabetes makes it difficult for the patients to fight off infection in the mouth and regulate sugar levels. Likewise, heart disease often occur when your body has an increase of inflammation and plaque — which block arteries and causes dental decay and gum disease.

People who take medications. Certain medication are known to cause dry mouth. While dry mouth may not seem like much, it can increase your risk of gum disease or tooth decay. Without proper saliva levels, we cannot clean food debris from our mouths or regulate plaque and bacteria levels in the mouth.

Those who smoke or use tobacco. It’s no secret that smoking and using tobacco can be detrimental to your overall health. But smoking and tobacco use have also been known to cause dental problems like gum disease. Smoking not only increases your risk of this harmful oral disease, it also can interfere with gum disease treatment.

The rule of thumb with gum disease is that nobody is immune to it. Your best bet is to continue your at-home oral health care plan of brushing twice a day and flossing daily while maintaining your regular dental visits. If you’re struggling with gum disease or need a quality family dentist, call our office today at 248-972-8720.