Are you at risk?

There are several factors that increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

  • Studies have clearly shown that if you smoke or chew tobacco, you are more likely to have periodontal disease. Tobacco users are much more likely than nonusers to form plaque and tartar on their teeth. Smokers also are more likely to have deeper pockets between their teeth and gums, and greater loss of bone and tissue that support teeth. Periodontal treatment is also less successful in patients who continue to smoke.

  • Systemic diseases, such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections, and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making the periodontal disease more severe. (Systemic diseases are those diseases that affect the body as a whole).

  • Many medications – such as blood pressure drugs, oral contraceptives, steroids, epilepsy drugs, and cancer therapy drugs – can affect your teeth and supporting tissues. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva. A lack of saliva can result in a chronically dry mouth, which can irritate the soft tissue. When you visit your dentist, it is important to update your medical history files to include all medications and any changes that occur in your health.

  • Bridges that no longer fit properly, crooked, crowded teeth, or fillings that have become defective may hold the plaque in place and increase the risk of developing periodontal disease.

  • Menopause, puberty, pregnancy, and oral contraceptives change the body’s hormone levels. This can cause gum tissue to become more sensitive to toxins and enzymes and can accelerate the growth of bacteria.

  • Genetics may play a role. You may be predisposed to a more aggressive, severe type of periodontitis. People with a family history of tooth loss, or those who have parents wearing dentures, should pay particular attention to their periodontal health.

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