Gum disease is a common chronic condition that affects nearly half of adults in the United States. Left untreated, it leads to tooth loss and has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, like uncontrolled diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack and even pregnancy complications. Knowing about your risk of developing the disease can help you prevent it — find out about the risk factors of gum disease from your periodontist in Boston below.
People of all ages can develop gum disease, but the risk raises above the age of 35 and then again past 55. The older you get the more likely you will experience periodontal disease and bone loss around your teeth.
The fix: Visit your dentist regularly and maintain proper oral hygiene at home to help prevent gum disease with age.
#2: Poor Oral Hygiene
The most common cause of gum disease is insufficient oral hygiene (i.e. poor brushing and flossing). If you do not clean your teeth regularly, your risk of developing gum disease increases substantially. Remember that you should be brushing your teeth for two minutes, after each meal or at least twice a day. Floss your teeth daily to remove the leftover food particles and bacteria your toothbrush just can’t reach.
The fix: Recommit yourself to oral hygiene. Ask your dental hygienist about the best tools and techniques to keep your teeth clean.
#3: Stress Level
We know stress can impact everything from blood pressure to your sleep patterns — and perhaps it’s no surprise that having high stress can raise your risk of developing gum disease, too. Stress activates the hormone cortisol, which affects your periodontal health. And when you’re stressed out, it’s more difficult to maintain a balanced, nutritious diet and proper oral hygiene practices.
The fix: Try to reduce your stress levels by taking a moment to stop and breathe. Talk to a therapist, improve your sleep patterns, and/or adopt vigorous exercise for lower stress and better overall wellbeing.
A number of the medications taken by older patients have one unfortunate side effect for oral health: dry mouth. Healthy mouths also have plenty of saliva flow — without it, food particles stick around and bacteria multiply quickly. That raises your risk of gum disease as well as cavities.
The fix: Talk to your doctor about the side effects of any medication you are on.
Regular Dental Visits Are Crucial
Keeping healthy gums over a lifetime is important for maintaining better oral and overall health. Gum disease leads to missing teeth and a host of related side effects, not to mention the toll it takes on your overall health. Most patients should visit their dentist every six months, but if you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease, we may recommend more frequent visits. Routine checkups and cleanings will keep your smile happy and healthy for the long haul!
About the Author
Dr. Alexander Schrott is a trusted periodontist and dental implant expert serving the Boston, MA area. To learn more about the prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of gum disease or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to contact the “periodontist near me” at 617-484-9240.