Risks and Prevention
Although bacterial plaque buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease, several other factors, including other diseases, medications and oral habits, also can contribute. These are factors that can increase your risk of gum disease or make it worse once the infection has set in.
- Genetics — Researchers believe up to 30% of the population may have a genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease. Having a genetic susceptibility, however, doesn't mean gum disease is inevitable. Even people who are highly prone to periodontal disease because of their genetic make-up can prevent or control the disease with good oral care.
- Smoking and tobacco use — Smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease and the longer, and more one smokes, the higher the risk. If periodontal disease is present, smoking makes it more severe. Smoking is the main cause of periodontal disease that is resistant to treatment. Smokers tend to collect more tartar on their teeth, develop deeper periodontal pockets once they have gum disease and are likely to lose more bone as the disease progresses. Unlike many other factors that affect the health of your gums, you have control over this one. Quitting smoking can play a major role in bringing periodontal disease under control.
Misaligned or crowded teeth, braces or bridgework — Anything that makes it more difficult to brush or floss your teeth is likely to enhance plaque and tartar formation above and below the gum line, which increases your chance of developing gum disease. Dentists and periodontists can show you the best ways to clean your teeth, especially in hard-to-clean circumstances. For example, there are special tools and ways of threading floss to clean around bridgework or slide under braces. And if overcrowded or crooked teeth are a problem, your dentist might recommend orthodontics to straighten out your smile and give you a better chance of preventing disease.