Gum Disease Risk Factors and Prevention

Gum disease prevention Past a certain point, periodontal disease can be difficult or impossible to treat, making prevention the best course of action. Consistent oral hygiene is the first step toward preventing gingivitis and periodontitis.


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Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a lot more common than you might think. As many as half of adult Americans experience bleeding gums during brushing or flossing and many believe it to be normal, but this is actually a sign of gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can have serious negative consequences on a patient’s health and lifestyle. Thankfully, Dr. Karl A. Rose is a specialist in gum disease treatment.

At Periodontal and Implant Associates of Greater Washington, we want to help you understand gum disease risk factors and prevention so you can maintain a healthy mouth. Below, we cover the basics regarding gum disease and its treatment.

What risk factors contribute to gum disease?

Although bacteria in plaque is the main cause of periodontal disease, there are other risk factors that can contribute to the development of an infection. Knowing the risk factors can help you to know if you are more at risk for gum disease.

  • Tobacco use: Smoking increases the risk and severity of periodontal disease. Smoking leads to more tartar buildup on teeth and creates deeper, hard to reach pockets where bacteria can hide.
  • Genetics: Your genes can be a contributing factor that leads to gum disease, but they do not make gum disease inevitable. With good oral care anyone can stop the progress of an infection.
  • Braces, bridgework, or crowded teeth: Braces make it hard to floss, so bacteria is more likely to stay between your teeth. The same is true for crowded and misaligned teeth. If you can’t remove the bacteria, plaque, and tartar from your teeth, you have a greater chance of developing gum disease.
  • Stress: Anytime you are stressed your body’s immune system is weakened. Without a strong immune system, your body can’t fight off infections, including the ones in your mouth. Stress makes periodontal disease worse and harder to treat.
  • Medications: Some medications cause side effects that make gum disease more likely. For example, some depression and high blood pressure medications can cause dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, plaque is more likely to form. On the other hand, some medications may enlarge your gums, making them more likely to trap bacteria and plaque. Medications that enlarge your gums include Phenytoin, Cyclosporine, Nifedipine and more.
  • Disease: Certain diseases put people at a higher risk for gum disease. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV infection can put you at a higher risk and make any gum disease you might have more severe.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to prevent periodontal disease. First practice good hygiene: brush and floss daily, and use antiseptic mouthwash if you choose. Brushing and flossing, if done the right way, can do a lot to remove plaque from your teeth, and using a tartar-control toothpaste can help stop new tartar from forming.

It is also essential to visit our office once every six months. A professional cleaning will remove the plaque that is hard to reach or that has already built up. We can also catch gum disease in its early stages, making it easier to fight.

Finally, if you notice any swelling, pain, or bleeding in your gums, call Dr. Rose and get help before the infection spreads.

What are the consequences of untreated gum disease?

Dr. Karl "Tony" Rose

If gum disease is left untreated, the infection will continue to spread and worsen. Ultimately, it can destroy the structures that keep your teeth in place. If teeth become too loose they may have to be extracted. Additionally, new research is showing that an infection in your gums can affect other aspects of your overall health. For example, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, premature births, and some respiratory diseases display a link to gum disease. Although more research is needed, it is clear that taking care of your oral health is connected to taking care of you overall health.

Gum disease should be taken seriously because it can have adverse affects on your health and lifestyle. If you think you might have gum disease, contact us today, and let our expert team help you to start feeling better now.