Most people know the main cause of periodontal disease or gum disease is plaque.  Gum disease includes gingivitis and periodontitis, which are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.   In my earlier blog, Healthy Gums Equal a Healthy Mouth, we discussed what gum disease is. But what are other reasons a person might develop gum disease?

Genetics:

Studies show that periodontal disease can be passed from parents to children, as well as between parents.  Bacteria that cause gum disease pas through saliva.  Contact with saliva, which occurs commonly in families, puts couples and children at risk if one member of the family has gum disease.  There are also a number of genes that play a role in gum disease development.  More studies are being done to see how these genes differ between various races and ethnic groups.

Stress:

Stress makes it more difficult for the body to fight of infection, including gum disease. Researchers speculate that cortisol, a hormone that increases with stress, may play a role in gum disease. Increased levels of cortisol lead to the destruction of the gums and bones. Also, individuals under high stress have a tendency to increase their bad habits, such as increased intake of food, sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or drugs.

Medications:

Some drugs, such as steroids, anti-depressants, acne medications, and high blood pressure medications can affect your oral health and lead to gum disease. Discuss your current medications with your dentist and health care providers.  Steroids, anti-depressants, and high blood pressure medications may cause your gums to become swollen and grow over your teeth.  Overgrown gums enable bacteria to accumulate more rapidly and may lead to severe periodontal disease.  Some acne medications may cause a discoloration to your gums, teeth and bone, indicating abnormality.

Smoking and Tobacco Use:

Studies have linked smoking and/or tobacco use to cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and numerous other health risks.  Smoking is a leading risk in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers are more likely to have periodontal problems, such as deep pockets between teeth and gums, loss of the bone and tissue that support teeth, and high levels of plaque.  If plaque is not removed, the bacteria in it can destroy gum tissue and break down the supporting bond that holds gums to teeth.

If you believe that you may be developing gum disease or have questions about your current medications, call my Waco dental office to schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Corbet Locke. I’m always happy to take time to answer my patients’ questions. The more you know about your oral health, the healthier your teeth will be.