Gum Disease Risk Factors
In addition to poor personal oral hygiene, there are a number of risk factors that may increase a patient
s chances of developing periodontal disease, or gum disease. Certain contributing risk factors include tobacco use, health conditions such as diabetes, and certain hormonal changes that may occur in the body. To be certain that periodontal disease does not become an issue, all individuals should practice regular oral hygiene in addition to regular visits with an oral health specialist such as a dentist and periodontist.
Tobacco Use and Gum Disease
Many of us are familiar with the general risk factors of tobacco use, namely cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. However, some may not be aware that tobacco use can increase the chances of developing gum disease. A number of studies have suggested that tobacco use may result in more cases of calculus, or tartar, buildup on the teeth.
Effects of Tobacco
When gum disease begins to develop, pockets, or spaces, will begin to form between teeth and gums. Tobacco use has been shown to worsen the depth of these pockets and contribute to a higher amount of bone loss in advanced cases of periodontal disease. Additionally, the chemicals found in tobacco such as tar and nicotine have been shown to slow down the healing processes in the mouth. This means that even after treatment has begun, it may take longer to heal as the body
s defenses are lower.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
Studies show that diabetes can complicate periodontal disease and vice versa. Diabetic patients may have a higher risk of developing infections in the mouth. As a result, the body may find difficulty processing insulin, causing trouble controlling and regulating diabetic complications and issues. On average, diabetic patients experience more severe gum disease than non-diabetic patients. Diabetic patients should be sure to discuss their condition with their dentist and periodontist, as this is an important step for making sure oral health is in tip-top shape.
Changes in hormones may also affect oral health, though this may not directly contribute to gum disease.
Increases in sex hormones during puberty for both men and women may lead to increased gum sensitivity, redness, and swelling. Women however have a greater exposure to these risks because they experience strong hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause.
Prenatal Oral Health
Oral health is an important consideration during pregnancy. This is because hormonal changes may cause oral issues such as increased sensitivity and an increased chance of developing infection. Oral infection during pregnancy is especially dangerous, as it can affect the baby’s health as well. Pregnant women should be sure to practice daily oral hygiene as well as maintain regular visits to a specialist.