Adults over age 35 lose more teeth to gum disease than cavities. Three out of four adults will be affected at some time in their life. Daily tooth-brushing and flossing along with regular professional cleaning are the best way to prevent periodontal disease. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home care people still can develop gum disease. Once the disease gets a foothold, professional intervention is necessary to prevent tooth loss.
Factors affecting the development of Periodontal Disease:
Periodontal Disease & Tobacco
Many studies link periodontal disease with tobacco usage. Smokers have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease, which also progresses more rapidly. Nicotine slows healing and reduces the predictability of success following periodontal treatment.
Smokeless tobacco and chewing tobacco also contribute to periodontal problems. Significant gum recession with root exposure often occurs with frequent use of these products. Increased susceptibility to cavities on the exposed roots is a common finding as well.
Diabetes and Oral Health
Individuals with diabetes, especially uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetics have a higher risk of developing oral infections such as periodontal disease. Their gum disease is generally more severe and difficult to manage. On the other hand, well-controlled diabetics respond as well as non-diabetics to periodontal treatment. Research has shown that a diabetics insulin requirement can be reduced after elimination of active periodontal disease.
Women & Periodontal Health
Women experience significant fluctuations in hormone levels during menses, pregnancy, and menopause. At these times there may be increased risk of periodontal disease, requiring special care of the mouth.
Increased redness and swelling of the gums, along with bleeding are often seen prior to menstruation and during pregnancy. Periodontal health is a very important part of prenatal care, as any infection, including periodontal disease can put a baby’s health at risk.
Menopausal and post-menopausal women may not dry mouth or a burning sensation in the gum tissues. There may also be a salty, peppery, or sour taste. Good oral hygiene and professional cleaning along with use of available saliva substitutes may help alleviate these symptoms.
During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These hormones increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness may also occur when taking oral contraceptives (synthetic hormones). Please be aware that some antibiotics can make contraceptives less effective when taken together.