Your Family History May Affect Your Gums
Dentists of the past have observed that people who have bad teeth and gums tend to produce offspring who also have them. This led some dentists many years ago to believe it was probably hereditary. Genetic science has since confirmed the idea that there are certain genes which are often behind gum disease.
The Gum Disease Gene
The gene most commonly thought to be behind gum disease, although it is not alone, is called IL-1. This seems to be the most notorious gene. The CDC has declared that it believes about 30 percent of all Americans have this gene. It is reported that at the current time that 47.2 percent of Americans over the age of 30 have periodontal disease. These statistics reveal that there are many people who have periodontitis who do not have the gene.
Even when DNA testing reveals that the gene is present, it does not at all prove that that individual will develop the disease. The likelihood is greater but it is not a guarantee that the disease will come.
Testing genes for potential genetic disorders has possibly caused more people to be concerned about it than should be. Most likely, there are other factors which must enter into the equation before the disease will manifest itself.
Bacteria and Periodontal Disease
One of the greatest factors behind gum disease is the bacteria that cause it. There are more than 500 different types of bacteria in your mouth. Some of them are behind the development of cavities and gum disease.
When you consume sugar, some of these bacteria produce acid. In fact, it will do so for the next 20 minutes each time you eat a carb, sugar, or sweet food or drink. The bacteria will also multiply faster as a result.
It is the acid and the bacteria that irritate the gums which starts an immune reaction. At the same time, the gums are pulling away from the teeth, which enable even more bacteria to pour into the new spaces. They develop colonies in the pockets that have formed on the gums at the same time.
As the reaction to the bacteria and inflammation spreads, it becomes an autoimmune reaction. The immune system starts attacking the gums, the support structures for the teeth, and the jawbone. Over time, the teeth will start to become loose, and may even fall out. As the disease is spreading, it often is painless until a lot of damage has already been done.
Bacteria are the primary trigger. When bacteria that produce acid is left on the teeth for long periods, it will irritate the gums and start the immune reaction. As the plaque is allowed to build up because of poor oral care, it soon becomes tartar, which cannot be removed by a toothbrush. The bacteria can then freely hide in the tartar, producing more acid and causing more irritation.
Note that the bacteria have little to do with genes. It is already in your mouth, and it will continue to produce acid. The key way to stop the problem is to keep the bacteria off your gums and teeth. You can help to do that by brushing twice a day for at least two minutes each time and flossing once a day. Ideally, you want to brush after meals – or at least rinse your mouth out with water.
Smoking and Gum Disease
Smoking is a lifestyle habit that you can and should stop if you want to avoid periodontal disease. It greatly raises the likelihood of developing it. While non-smokers have a 4.9 chance of developing the disease, those who are currently smoking have a 15.6 percent chance. It is believed that more than half of the current cases of periodontitis are caused by smoking. It is also known that smoking reduces the effectiveness of your immune system in your mouth and body. Another problem with smoking is that it also reduces how fast you heal after you have had treatment for gum disease.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Cutting back on your sugar intake is very important to preventing gum disease. So is preventing a dry mouth. This problem enables the bacteria to multiply rapidly and exposes your teeth to more acid. Your saliva is necessary to help keep the bacteria and acid off of your teeth and gums, and the minerals in it will help to strengthen your teeth.
Make Regular Dental Visits
It only makes sense to do all you can to help yourself avoid gum disease – whether you have inherited the gene or not. Part of good oral disease prevention also includes seeing a dentist regularly to help you watch for the disease and treat it if it should develop.
If your family history reveals that you probably have the genes for gum disease, or if you already have it and are looking for a periodontist to help you with periodontal treatment, Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board Certified Periodontist, can help you. He provides all levels of gum disease treatment for periodontitis and periodontal surgery when needed. Most dental health plans are accepted. His dental offices are located in the Carrollton, TX, and Grapevine, TX areas. For a consultation or dental checkup, you can contact his office today at (817) 756-8578.