Who is likely to suffer from gum disease and why?

90% of the population are estimated to suffer from a form of gum disease at some stage in their life. The most common cause of gum disease is bad oral hygiene, however certain groups are more at risk. Those people most at risk of gum disease include:

Women & Teenage Girls
Women and teenage girls are more at risk of developing gum disease because of the many hormonal changes they experience such as puberty, the menopause, as well as taking oral contraceptives and having monthly periods. During all of these times, the body experiences hormonal changes that make gums sensitive.

Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, a woman experiences a whole nine months of hormonal changes which make the gums much more sensitive than usual and more susceptible to bleeding – a well-known, common ailment experienced during pregnancy. Recent research has also shown that gum disease may be responsible for an increase in the likelihood of giving birth prematurely.

Smoking increases bacterial plaque whilst reducing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the gums and generates “free radicals” which delay the healing process, thus making the gums more susceptible to infection. Research shows that smoking causes 50% of all gum disease cases.

People with Diabetes
Gum disease is often considered the sixth complication of diabetes. This is because when blood sugar levels are poorly controlled, blood glucose levels rise and the higher levels of sugar in the mouth help harmful germs to grow. People with diabetes can also be more susceptible to contracting infections including infections of the gums. It is therefore vital that the first signs of gum disease are treated as wounds and infections may take longer to heal and can increase the risk of diabetic complications, thus creating a “vicious” circle.

People Who Suffer From Stress
Research shows that stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight gum disease.

Other Risk Factors

Heart Disease
Researchers have found that people with gum disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from heart disease as those without gum disease. There are two theories for this, one is that bacteria in the mouth can enter the blood vessels and attach to fatty plaques, causing clot formation which can obstruct blood flow and may lead to a heart attack. The second theory is that inflammation caused by gum disease increases plaque build up, which may contribute to the swelling of the arteries.

Studies have highlighted that people diagnosed with acute cerebrovascular ischemia were more likely to have an oral infection when compared to those in a controlled group.