The primary cause of periodontal disease is poor dental hygiene that leads to excessive buildup of plaque. However, there are other factors that can affect the health of teeth and gums.
Smoking and tobacco use
In addition to causing other serious health problems, smoking or tobacco use can significantly affect gums and lead to periodontal disease. Smokers are 3 to 6 times as likely to have periodontal disease as nonsmokers. Smoking reduces the supply of oxygen to affected areas of the mouth. It also constricts blood vessels and reduces the flow of blood to the gums, which can lead to gum disease or retard healing.
Diabetes is a result of insufficient production of insulin or an inability to use insulin correctly. If you are diabetic, you are at a higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal diseases. Diabetes may also affect your ability to fight infection.
The effects of stress on the physical and mental health of the body are considerable. Stress can also limit the body's ability to fight off infection, which includes periodontal disease.
Some drugs, or long-term use of them, can lead to periodontal disease. These drugs include: antidepressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, decongestants, muscle relaxants, oral contraceptives, and some heart medications. Your oral health care provider should always be made aware of any medications you are taking.
Hormonal changes: pregnancy, puberty, menstruation
Any time the hormone levels in the body fluctuate or are elevated, the tissues of the body can be affected. These include your gums, which can become sensitive and more susceptible to gum disease.
In addition, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to deliver pre-term, low birth weight babies.
Diet and nutrition
The link between proper nutrition and general health is well known. The same holds true for dental health. Poor nutrition reduces the body's ability to fight infection. Research has shown people who do not consume a balanced diet have an increased likelihood of developing periodontal disease.
Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team