Gum Disease: Are You At Risk? (Pt. 1)
- May 1, 2015
Gum disease (or periodontal disease if you want to get technical about it) can be controlled and prevented with good oral hygiene habits. That means brushing, flossing, and rinsing thoroughly at least twice a day, in addition to regular visits to your dentist’s office for cleaning and an assessment of your oral health. Unfortunately, gum disease is still a huge problem in the US: the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most recent numbers put the rate of gum disease in adults over the age of 30 at 50% (and many of those cases are undiagnosed). That breaks down to about 64 million people, or 480 times the population of Columbia, SC!
Even if you’re vigilant about your oral health routine, you can still be at risk for gum disease.
It would be great if it were that simple, but there are lots of risk factors that have an impact on whether or not you develop gum disease (gingivitis or the more serious periodontitis). Some of them you can do something about, others you can’t, but just knowing them should at least help you make the best decisions for your oral health.
Risk Factors You Can Control
A lot of the risk factors in this post are actually controllable. You can do something about them! It just takes a little gumption and discipline, as well as help from your dentist.
Smoking: Tobacco use is one of the top contributors of a lot of illnesses and diseases (this applies to all tobacco products, not just smoking). If you use tobacco, at some point you will get gum disease “bottom line”. Quitting NOW will reduce your chances gum disease, as well as a lot of other serious health problems.
Your Diet: Poor diet and obesity are contributors, and if you are overweight you need to take steps to get your weight under control. However, many people wrongly believe that because they aren’t obese, their diet is fine and they aren’t at an increased risk. Thin people can also be at increased risk for gum disease if their diet isn’t healthy or nutritious. A good diet is the basis for a strong immune system. If you make poor food choices, eventually your immune system will fail you, either in your gums, or some place else.
Stressing Out: When stress gets out of control it can wear your body’s systems down, including your immune system. Stress is also believed to be a cause of teeth grinding. All that physical strain damages your teeth and gums and makes them more vulnerable. Check out this link for good tips on how to manage it.
Your Medications: Some medications can put you at greater risk for developing gum disease as a side effect. It is very important that your dentist knows all your medications! This will allow your dentist to build a better plan for your treatment.
Risk Factors You Can’t Control: Age and Genetics
Two of the risk factors you can’t directly control are age and your genetics. However, there are still things you can do to at least address these risk factors and plan for them.
Age: Getting older has a lot of benefits, but this isn’t one of them. Once you hit the age of 65, your risk jumps from 50% to 70%, according to the CDC. Increased age also means your immune system will have a much harder time dealing with the bacteria that cause gum disease. Everybody gets older, but if you work with your dentist, you can build a treatment and oral health maintenance program that fits your changing needs.
Your Genetic Makeup: We’re learning that your genetics play a big role in how susceptible you are to gum disease. You can’t change your genetic code, but what you can do is talk to your family. Build a Family Health History! Did a parent struggle with gum disease? A grandparent? An aunt or uncle? You won’t know until you ask! Getting this kind of information together is a great way to give yourself peace of mind where your health is concerned.
If it turns out you have a family history of gum disease, your risk is much higher, even if you generally do a good job on the oral hygiene front.
Let Total Dental Care of South Carolina Help!
Gum disease is preventable, but you need help to do it right. Brush, floss, and rinse twice a day, and make an appointment with us as soon as you can! You can even make an appointment online by clicking here.
If you’d like to speak with a member of our friendly staff, call us at 803-272-4162 now!