Gum disease affects a large percentage of the adult population in America. Starting out as a mild form known as gingivitis, gum disease can worsen over time if left untreated. While gingivitis is characterized by swollen, tender gums that may bleed, the more severe form known as periodontitis can even result in tooth loss.
Poor oral hygiene is one of the main contributors to the development of gum disease. However, there are more than a few other factors that can lead to periodontal diseases, such as –
Family History and Genetics:
Research has shown that some individuals may be more predisposed to developing gum disease than others. Such traits can carry on to your subsequent generations and leave you at risk of gum diseases.
The body goes through many changes during pregnancy and puberty. The hormonal changes occurring during this period can have an effect on the gums as well and put the person at an increased risk for gum disease.
The chances of developing gum disease can increase drastically with increasing age. A vast majority of Americans that suffer from gum disease are over the age of 70. This is usually due to the ability to maintain good oral hygiene by older people, the medication that reduces salivary flow and other medical conditions that may affect oral health.
A diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar can lead to chronic inflammation in the body, which predisposes a person to gum disease.
Chronic smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease. Smokers often fail to notice the symptoms of gum disease though, since the nicotine can constrict the blood vessels and mask the symptoms of inflamed and bleeding gums.
Diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc. increase the chances of gum disease in individuals. In fact, people with gum disease are also at an increased risk of worsening diabetes.
Out of these, the American Dental Association classifies genetics and family history as a significant risk factor for developing gum diseases. People who have family members with a chronic history of gum diseases need to remain more vigilant about their oral health conditions. It should also be kept in mind that while the make of your genetics may not be in your control, your oral habits are. This is especially important for individuals with children, who tend to follow the example of their parents when it comes to caring for their teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding bad oral habits like smoking, etc. are good examples to set for the younger members of your family.
Other Oral Conditions that are Affected by Family History
One gene, in particular, has been linked to a greater risk of tooth cavities in adult teeth. Individuals who have a history of developing frequent tooth decay may benefit from prescription toothpaste and regular visits to the dentist. It is also advised to get dental sealants and fluoride treatments for your children if the risk of dental decay runs in your family.
Malocclusion, or misaligned teeth that may need braces, are also affected by heredity. The size of the jaw is largely determined by genetics, which in turn, can affect dental issues like crowding, gaps in teeth, or bite problems.
Cancers of all types have a genetic association. While risk factors like tobacco or alcohol play a major role in oral cancer, certain people with specific genetic markers may be at a higher risk of developing the disease.