Risk Factors for Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease

  • Poor oral home care habits. Establishing an adequate home care routine seems like a simple task but can be difficult to follow through with. A good routine consists of twice daily brushing for 2 minutes each session and cleaning between the teeth once daily. Most people don’t have difficulty with brushing twice daily but cleaning between the teeth is often left out. When you don’t clean between your teeth you are missing at least 35% of the tooth surfaces. The space between the teeth happens to be the most vulnerable site for periodontal disease and is often where it begins. It is important to keep in mind that good home care is not a substitute for professional dental evaluation and treatment.  (Link to “why brushing and flossing is not enough”).
  • Lack of professional dental care. A person with no oral disease needs to see a dental provider every 6 months to maintain health. You may think that you are healthy because you have no signs or symptoms of disease but it could be hiding. Only a trained dental care provider can determine if you have gingivitis or periodontal disease. It’s also important to remember that the “cleaning” that you have at your dental office is a professional hygiene visit that includes much more than clean teeth. A hygiene visit includes an oral cancer screening, detailed oral soft tissue evaluation, periodontal health assessment, cavity check, home care assessment, home care instruction and professional scale and polish.
  • A family history of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Knowing that you have a family history of periodontal disease is a great indicator to watch yourself closely. Salivary diagnostics can help determine your risk for development of periodontal disease. (Create salivary diagnostics page)
  • Certain medications can predispose you to gingival diseases. Dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications. If you have periodontal disease it can make the bone loss around your teeth quickly advance. Common classes of medications that cause dry mouth include many blood pressure medications, psychiatric medications, pain relievers and allergy medications. Dry mouth can also put you at risk for cavities.
  • Dental crowns and fillings that don’t fit well. Once a tooth has a filling or crown/cap it naturally will be more likely to collect plaque. Remember that plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. Those bacteria are the culprits for cavities and gingivitis/periodontal disease. If a crown or filling does not fit well it can trap a significant amount of plaque and set the stage for disease.
  • Crowded teeth. Teeth that are crowded are generally more difficult to take care of on a daily basis. Teeth are designed to be lined up in a certain way and when they are not it can predispose teeth to not only gingivitis and periodontal disease but many other problems as well.
  • Certain medical conditions such as diabetes and Down’s syndrome. It is well established that periodontal disease and diabetes are connected. People who have diabetes are much more likely to develop periodontal disease. Having periodontal disease can make it more difficult to control blood sugar if you have diabetes. The bone loss from periodontal disease can progress at a faster pace than in patients who are not diabetic. Certain inherited syndromes, such as Down’s syndrome, can predispose persons to periodontal disease. In addition to being genetically predisposed to periodontal diseases they have more difficulty with home care.
  • Smoking. Smoking can influence the progression of periodontal disease and can make the disease more difficult to control. Smoking hides the signs and symptoms of gingivitis and periodontal disease which can lead to a false sense of security about your dental health. Smokers generally need more frequent dental visits. Not only does smoking increase your risks for dental disease, but it also increases your risk for oral cancer particularly when used in combination with alcohol.