• Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

    A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
    It is possible to develop periodontal disease with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your dentist or doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

    Lifestyle Factors

    • Smoking —Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. It also greatly reduces the chance that treatments for periodontal disease will be effective.
    • Poor nutrition—An unhealthy diet (eg, one that is high in fat and low in vitamin C ) can increase your chance of periodontal disease.
    • Stress—Stress can hamper your body’s ability to fight off the infection that prompts periodontal disease.



    Taking certain medicines can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, such as:
    • Birth control pills
    • Antidepressants
    • Heart medicines
    • Medicines used to treat seizures
    • Chemotherapy medicines for cancer treatment
    • Medicines used to treat AIDS
    • Immunosuppressant medicines


    Your risk of developing periodontal disease increases as you age:
    • 8.5% of adults aged 20-64 have periodontal disease
    • 17% of adults aged 65 and over have periodontal disease


    Women are more likely than men to develop periodontitis, probably because of hormonal changes that women experience throughout their life cycle.

    Genetic Factors

    There seems to be a genetic tendency for certain people to develop periodontitis.


    African Americans and people of Hispanic origin have a higher rate of periodontitis than do Caucasian Americans.

    Other Factors

    Other factors that may increase your risk of periodontitis include:
    • Living in poverty
    • Having poor dental hygiene
    • Having badly fitting dentures and/or uneven fillings or crowns
    • Being a habitual mouth breather


    American Academy of Periodontology. Gum disease: what you need to know. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: http://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease.htm . Updated June 2010. Accessed July 25, 2010.

    American Dental Association. Periodontal (gum) diseases. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/ . Updated March 2005. Accessed July 25, 2010.

    National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Periodontal (gum) disease. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/FindDataByTopic/GumDisease/ . Updated March 2010. Accessed July 25, 2010.

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