What causes gum disease?
What are some risk factors for
Some people do have a genetic tendency to be susceptible to gum disease, hormonal changes such as those during pregnancy, and diabetes and other illnesses can make the mouth more susceptible to infection. While we don't know exactly what causes periodontal disease, we do know that there are some serious risk factors, including inadequate dental hygiene and smoking tobacco products.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smokers and smokeless tobacco users are six times more likely than non-smokers to have serious gum disease. Why? Tobacco users have more tartar on their teeth and deeper pockets between teeth and gums, decreased blood flow in the gums that affects how gums heal, and mouths that are more susceptible to infection by aggressive bacteria. Bottom line: Smoking increases your risk of gum disease, and if you have gum disease already, smoking makes it worse.
Diabetes and Gum Disease
Diabetics are more likely to have gum disease than non-diabetics, primarily because diabetics are more susceptible to infections in general. High blood sugar results in high levels of sugar in body tissue, making the tissue a natural host for bacteria that cause infection. Interestingly, research has shown that gum disease can make it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar—severe gum disease actually may increase blood sugar—so the relationship between diabetes and periodontal disease appears to go both ways.
If you are a diabetic, dental checkups should be an essential part of your ongoing healthcare plan. Keeping your teeth and gums in their best possible health will reduce your possibility of experiencing complications from the infections that cause gum disease.
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