Risk for gum disease

You are at greater risk for gum disease if:

  • You don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly or well enough to remove plaque.

  • You smoke cigarettes or use spit tobacco. Tobacco use is believed to be one of the biggest risks for gum disease. Tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection, interferes with healing, and makes you more likely to have serious gum disease that results in tooth loss.

  • Gum disease runs in your family. If you have a family history of gum disease, you are much more likely than normal to develop it, even if you take good care of your teeth and gums.

  • You are a woman going through the hormonal changes caused by puberty, menopause, or pregnancy.

  • You have a disease that reduces your ability to fight infection, such as uncontrolled diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia.

  • You are under a lot of stress. Stress can weaken your immune system and make you more likely to develop infections.

  • You eat a diet that is low in vitamins and minerals, which can weaken your immune system, or high in sugary foods and other carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread), which help plaque grow.

  • You take certain medicines, such as:

    • Seizure-control drugs like phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek).

    • Calcium channel blockers, which are used to control high blood pressure or for people with certain heart problems.

    • Cyclosporine, a medicine that suppresses the immune system. It is used to keep the body from rejecting transplanted organs.

    • Birth-control pills.

    • Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy).

    • Drugs that block androgen to treat prostate cancer.

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