At our Castle Rock family dentistry, we see a lot of patients who have questions about their risk of developing gum disease. Worrying about gum disease means understanding the potential long-term damage gingivitis and periodontal disease can do to not only your oral health but your overall health as well.
Gum disease develops when the gum tissue that supports your teeth becomes inflamed due to bacterial secretions that occur along the gum line. Plaque, a sticky biofilm, develops on the surface of our teeth and along the gum line. When allowed to remain in the mouth, whether from not brushing or flossing enough, plaque can irritate gum tissue and erode away tooth enamel. This can lead to tooth and bone loss if not treated.
Fortunately, you can self-evaluate whether you’re at risk of gum disease by taking an honest assessment of your daily oral hygiene habits. According to the American Dental Association, the risks of gum disease include:
- Practicing poor oral health. Brushing and flossing daily rank as the two best habits you can practice to protect your teeth from harmful oral bacteria that causes gum disease. If you don’t brush at least twice a day and floss daily, you allow plaque to build up, which, as we covered, greatly increases your risk of gingivitis.
- Smoking or other tobacco use. While smoking is one of the most destructive habits to your long-term health, it also greatly contributes to the development of gum disease. Studies have found that smoking actually promotes the growth of harmful oral bacteria. Smokers typically have higher rates of plaque build up when compared to nonsmokers, which places them at a higher risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, genetics can simply be against some people when it comes to their risk of gum disease. If you have a family history of gum disease, tooth loss, or poor oral health, you may have certain genetic markers that naturally increase your risk for the disease.
- Misaligned or crooked teeth. Orthodontic treatments like braces or Invisalign receive a lot of attention because of cosmetic reasons. However, straightening your teeth and improving your bite also helps to protect your oral health by allowing you to brush and floss more easily.
- Taking prescription medications. Certain types of medication, such as calcium channel blockers, anti-epilepsy medications, and steroids, can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Saliva plays an important role in protecting your oral health by helping to wash away food particles and bacteria that linger in the mouth throughout the day. Dry mouth causes your body to produce less saliva than normal, which allows these harmful substances to linger longer in the mouth.
- Other health conditions. There are a range of health conditions that can impact your oral health and risk of gum disease. Pregnancy, for example, causes a woman’s hormones to wildly fluctuate. This hormone imbalance alters the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the mouth, leading many expectant mothers to develop what’s wildly known at Pregnancy Gingivitis. A recent study found that for most women, pregnancy gingivitis doesn’t go away after delivery and can linger for months afterwards if not treated by a dentist.
If you have any questions about your risk of gum disease, feel free to ask any member of our staff at Glow Comprehensive Dentistry during your next visit to our Castle Rock family dentistry.