A recent study published in the Journal of Dental Research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), indicates that nearly half of adults over the age of 30 (an astounding 64.7 million!) have some degree of gum disease. These statistics don’t improve as we get older either. The same study estimates that 70% of the population over 65 has gum disease.
One of the reasons that gum disease is so prevalent is that it can progress to serious stages with no noticeable symptoms. So it’s especially important to understand its risk factors and symptoms, because the more information you have about your potential for developing gum disease, the sooner you can recognize if it becomes a problem for you.
Periodontal Disease Risk Factors
Improper oral hygiene practices are the primary cause of gum disease, but there are other risk factors that you should be aware of:
Age: Research from the CDC indicates that more than 70 percent of people over 65 have some form of gum disease.
Smoking: Using tobacco products obviously cause a number of significant health issues, including oral health problems. If you smoke or chew tobacco, you are at an increased risk for developing gum disease. In fact, studies indicate that using tobacco use may be one of the major risk factors for periodontal disease.
Stress: Nothing good ever came from stress, and your oral health is no exception. Stress is another risk factor for periodontal disease because it can make it more difficult for your body to fight infections, including those in your mouth.
Genetics: Research also shows that some people are more susceptible to gum disease because of genetics. If you fall into this category, you can be as diligent as possible with your oral hygiene and still be at increased risk for developing gum disease. In this case, prevention and early detection are your best defense.
Medications: Almost every type of medication has some side effects, some of which can affect your oral health. Drugs like antidepressants and high blood pressure medication can lead to dry mouth, which can lead to gum disease if not treated. When you first started visiting your dentist you probably gave them a list of the medications you take. So if you’ve recently started taking a new drug, let your dentist know during your next visit.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching: Clenching and grinding puts additional stress on your teeth and the soft tissue supporting your teeth. This action can accelerate the rate at which periodontal tissue is destroyed.
Poor Nutrition: If you are not taking in sufficient nutrients, your body’s immune system can become compromised. This makes it harder to fight infections, and since gum disease starts as an infection, lack of proper nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Symptoms to Look For
It’s critical to be familiar with the symptoms of gum disease, and these include:
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush
- Tender or swollen gums
- Chronic dry mouth and bad breath
- Sensitive teeth and pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Receding gum line
If any of these risk factors or symptoms applies to you, you should have your teeth checked as soon as possible. A simple dental exam and cleaning will provide important information about the health of your teeth so you and your dentist can take the appropriate action.
Please contact Smith Dental to arrange your next exam and dental cleaning.