Knowing the Risk Factors for Gum Disease

As you get older, you are more likely to hear about gum disease from your dentist. But, do you really know what gum disease is? Or, what causes it?

Periodontal (gum) disease is the inflammation of the tissues surrounding your teeth and, if left untreated, can progressively worsen, damaging your gums and promoting tooth loss. Your first step in preventing gum disease is knowing the causes, so let’s take a closer look at the behaviors that can put you at a greater risk.

Poor Dental Hygiene

The easiest way to prevent gum disease is to keep up with healthy oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing at home to remove bacteria and tartar that can lead to gum disease, in addition to scheduling regular dental visits for cleanings and X-rays. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and keeping up with healthy habits can ensure you keep a healthy mouth throughout your life.

Tobacco Use

You know by now that smoking is associated with many illnesses, and gum disease is one of them. Research has shown that tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in developing gum disease. Luckily, this is a habit you can never start or change if you currently smoke.


According to the American Academy of Periodontology, more than 70 percent of Americans 65 and older have gum disease. Although you can’t change your age, you can stay on top of your gum health by visiting the dentist at least twice a year.


Unfortunately, some people are just more likely to develop gum disease based on their genetics. If you think you might be someone with a high risk of gum disease in your family, speak to your dentist about genetic testing early to begin intervention treatment.

Medical Conditions

There are many diseases and bodily changes that affect your body’s inflammatory system or your body’s ability to fight off infection. Gum disease can worsen if you have chronic stress, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. You may also be more susceptible to gum disease if you are experiencing hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause.

Poor Diet

Following a healthy diet and staying within a healthy weight range is key to helping your body’s ability to fight off infections – including gum disease. Research has also shown that obesity may increase your chances of getting gum disease, so keeping a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help keep you healthy.


There are many medications that can increase your risk of gum disease, including oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, heart medications and steroids. Speak to your doctor and dentist to learn more about which medications may affect your chances of getting gum disease and to make sure that there are no potential drug interactions between your routine medications and any dental health treatments or medicines.

Grinding Teeth

If you clench or grind your teeth, you are putting force on your gums which can exacerbate the early stages of gum disease. This can be difficult to overcome – especially if it is an activity that occurs while you are sleeping – but there are options. Speak with your dentist to discuss ways to help prevent teeth grinding.

To prevent or treat gum disease, it is important to see a professional dentist at least twice a year. Genesee Dental can handle all of your routine dental health care and can offer advice and treatment options to help stop gum disease in its tracks. Schedule your next visit today by calling 585-343-1113 or request an appointment online now.


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