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March 10, 2014 – Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in St. Augustine and the United States as whole. To make matters worse, it’s on the rise. Research in the last few years has clearly demonstrated a link between the health of a person’s gums and their overall health. In fact, the health of a woman’s gums while pregnant can have a direct link to the health of her unborn baby. More about that important topic can be found in this article, St. Augustine Dental Care While Pregnant. While gum disease is caused by bacteria, there are a number of factors that can make periodontal disease worse. Some we cannot control, such as genetics, and others we can control, like drinking and smoking. This article will focus on those risk factors and what you can be looking for.

Periodontal disease refers to the loss of bone support and gums around a tooth, or what is called attachment loss (AL). AL is caused primarily by a group of bacteria naturally found in your gums called the red complex. AL occurs when the amount of bacteria in the red complex gets out of control. The increase in bacteria causes inflammation and the inflammation leads to the release of C-reactive protein. This protein puts your body’s immune system on high alert all day, every day. This is very unhealthy. AL can be exacerbated by other factors as well that will be addressed here and you will see why going to your World Golf Village dentist only every six months may not be often enough because of these risk factors.

The first risk factor is our genes. There is actually a gene that will make you more predisposed to having periodontal disease, and it is found in about 30% of the population of St. Augustine. Your risk for developing gum disease escalates five to 20 times just because of what you won in the genetic lottery. If you have the gene, you will have about four times of the type of bacteria in your red complex. That is how that individual can develop periodontal disease. Further, someone with this gene will potentially develop gum disease 20 years earlier than those without the gene. You are also more likely to develop periodontal disease in St. Augustine as you age. 80% of 60 year olds have gum disease, but it typically starts around age 50. Women are more susceptible to gum disease as their estrogen decreases, and simply being a man over the age of 30 makes you more likely to develop gum disease.

Past articles such as, Tooth Sensitivity: How Your World Golf Village Dentist Can Help, have discussed the link between receding gums, sleep, and grinding. We know that grinding puts enormous pressure on the ligaments that support the tooth and the bone that holds the tooth. When grinding at night, you can put over 900 pounds per square inch of pressure on the tooth and the surrounding supporting structures. This an extremely powerful and destructive process that can advance periodontal disease and AL above and beyond what the red complex can do by itself. In this instance, we strongly recommend a night guard. If you are clenching and grinding, you are most likely not getting a restful night’s sleep. You may in fact have a sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea leads to even greater release of C-reactive protein. If you are not getting a good night’s rest, you are three times more likely to develop periodontal disease.

What about the things we put into our body? Bone loss, part of AL, can be caused by a diet high in cholesterol, eating fatty foods and foods low in nutritional value. Everyone already knows this, but eating fresh fruits and vegetables is imperative to your overall health. Eating greasy food and take out frequently leads to heart disease and loss of teeth. A multivitamin would be the minimum you could do to help meet your nutritional needs. It is not just food, but alcohol as well. Drinking more than five alcoholic drinks a week leads to a 30% increase in developing gum disease in St. Augustine. 10 or more and it is a 40% increase. Smoking is another problem. Smoking literally kills the fibers that support your teeth, causing them to become loose and more likely to bleed.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. As you can see, the progression of and likelihood of developing periodontal disease is controlled by many other factors. You are now aware of what can make gum disease worse. Addressing certain lifestyle changes can keep you out of your World Golf Village dental office. But if you do develop periodontal disease, it must be treated. It not only leads to loss of teeth, but can increase your risk in developing heart disease and ultimately shortening your life. Having inflamed gums is essentially like having an infection the size of your fist. If you had that on your arm, you would get it treated today. Don’t let gum disease out of control, see your dentist in World Golf Village.

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