. Behaviors that Influence Gum Disease: 1800Dentist.com

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Behaviors that Influence Gum Disease: 1800Dentist.com

Rumor has it that approximately 75 percent of all American adults have some degree of gum disease, yet a majority of them do not know they have it. 1-800-DENTIST defines gum disease as being "...an infection of the tissues that support your teeth, or what we commonly call gums (periodontal literally means 'around the tooth')". In its earliest stages it is called gingivitis, when in a more advanced state it is known as periodontal disease, however regardless of the stage, it is a serious dental problem that requires the attention of a dentistand behavior modification to keep in check.

Some people are naturally predisposed to developing gum disease thanks to the genetic condition markers passed down by previous generations. It is estimated that nearly 30 percent of the entire population have a genetic proclivity that may lead to gum disease as those individuals are six times more than like to develop the dental problem. Currently altering genetics is the fodder for science fiction, so instead everyone is encouraged to modify their behaviors to lower their odds of developing the dental problem and the problems associated with it.

Stop Smoking

Everyone has a vice or two, but when it comes to impact, smoking packs the most crippling punch of them all. Smoking, the act of lighting, inhaling and exhaling tobacco is a habit that has been around for hundreds of years. The behavior is no longer considered chic as the average cigarette is packed filled with toxins and chemicals, none of which have health benefits. Smoking is highly addictive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that around 45 million Americans smoke and that practice causes 438,000 deaths annually. The habit is known for causing slews of health issues such has heart disease and cancer, and it is also the leading culprit in triggering gum disease.

Tobacco is a controlled substance that has been scientifically proven to interfere with the normal function of gum tissue cells. Consistent use of tobacco products can cause damage that separates gums from bones, leaving the entire oral cavity more prone to infection. As a result, smokers are several times more likely to get advanced periodontal disease than their non-smoking counterparts. In addition to smoking causing gum disease, the continued behavior will limit the chance of success for any dental treatment implemented to correct the issue.


For many Americans stress seems to go hand-in-hand with life as studies have found that around one third of all Americans suffer from some level of anxiety (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/86705.php). There are numerous reasons that can trigger bouts with stress including work, finances, family, health and mental well being. Regardless of why that anxiety is lingering about, individuals should focus their efforts to relaxing as the fact is, stress can also contribute to gum disease.

Researchers have found a correlation between stress and gum disease and have speculated that the relationship is triggered by cortisol, a hormone naturally released when a body is deciding between the basic instincts of fight vs. flight (Journal of Periodontology, August 2007). The scientists hypothesized that higher levels of cortisol can contribute to the destruction of the gums and bone due to periodontal diseases. The results are not really considered surprising as studies have shown that long-term stress weakens the human immune systems, and increases susceptibility to infections including gum disease.

Poor Nutrition

The word diet is carelessly tossed around in regards to weight loss, but skinny or fat everyone follows some type of diet (AKA nutrition) in order to feed their body. Individuals who consume foods devoid of vitamins and minerals can experience a decline in their immune system functions, naturally upping the odds of gum disease developing. Plus, nutrition plans that are high in processed carbohydrates (such as white grains, pasta and bread) will have high levels of sugar on their teeth. That sugar will attract oral bacteria that will break down the deposits and release tooth-eroding acids as a byproduct, and those acids will compound dental problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and cavities.

In order to reduce the risk of gum disease from developing, individuals should make sure that each bite of food consumed counts and has a place on the Government's Nutrition Plate. By following the government supported eating plan, individuals will eat a diet rich with foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grainsand lean protein; all of which are foods known for boosting dental health.

While these three behaviors can strongly influence the odds of developing gum disease, they are not the only factors that can influence the outcome. Dentists are the best source of information on the topic and patients can feel free to discuss the topic further with their professional dental care provider. Individuals in need to find a dentist to discuss gum disease and any other areas of concern can call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a qualified practitioner close to home and well versed on the subject.

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