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Gum Disease: Assessing Your Risk

Gum disease poses a significant threat to your long-term oral health — and your overall health and well-being. The condition has been associated with chronic and systemic medical conditions including cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetic complications.


Also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, the main cause of this problem is plaque — the soft, sticky, bacteria-rich film that accumulates on the teeth. However, several other factors can affect your gum health as well.

Although gum disease can strike anyone who has their natural teeth, some patients face a higher risk of periodontal disease than others.

Do You Have a Family History of Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is transmitted genetically. If your parents and grandparents suffered from this condition, chances are you might, too. Research shows that, even with good oral health care habits, patients with a family history of gum disease are more prone to developing this problem.

Do You Smoke?

Tobacco use is one of the most significant risk factors for developing periodontitis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 64 percent of smokers have some form of periodontal disease.

Do You Have a Systemic Disease?

If you have a systemic disease, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or cardiovascular disease, you might have an increased risk for gum disease. These conditions interfere with the body’s inflammatory systems. Consequently, they can negatively affect gum health.

Do You Take Medication?

Certain prescription medications can also play a role in periodontitis development. Some oral contraceptives, heart medicines and anti-depressants, for instance, are known for boosting the risk of periodontitis. Check with your oral health care professional to see if your prescriptions could be a problem.

Do You Suffer from Stress?

Feeling stressed? Stress has been connected to several serious health issues, including cancer and hypertension. Research has demonstrated that stress also inhibits the body’s ability to ward off periodontitis.

Do You Grind or Clench Your Teeth?

Grinding or clenching your teeth puts extra pressure on your teeth and gums. This can degrade gum tissue, which facilitates the development of periodontal disease.

Do You Eat a Balanced Diet?

If you don’t eat a healthy diet, your body may lack essential nutrients. This can affect your immune system and worsen the condition of your gums. And if you’re significantly overweight or obese, you may face an even greater risk for gum disease.

If you think you might be at risk for periodontal disease, now is the time to act. If you wait, the problem may worsen. Contact a qualified oral care professional who can assess your gum health and recommend actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of developing periodontitis.

In northern Utah, the professionals at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah are the go-to gum health and oral care experts. With three convenient Salt Lake City area offices — in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan and Tooele — we make it easy to keep a healthy smile. Contact us and schedule a consultation to discuss your risk for gum disease today.

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