Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a severe gum infection. It’s a condition that causes teeth to loosen and left untreated, leads to tooth loss. It can also cause bone loss in your jaw, causing pain and potential health problems throughout your body. That’s why it’s critical to know what increases your risk of periodontal disease so you can take action to reduce your risk.

Smoking or Other Tobacco Use

Tobacco use has long been linked to much more serious diseases such as cancer, lung and heart disease, and many others. It’s no surprise, then, that it also increases your risk of periodontal disease. In fact, smoking or other tobacco use is the most significant risk factor in whether you develop the disease and how it progresses.


Certain drugs can increase your risk of periodontal disease. Specifically, oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines can impact your dental health. It’s a good idea to inform your dentist of any and all medications you take, just as you would your doctor or pharmacist, so they can take that into account when examining your mouth.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth puts extra force on the gum tissues and teeth. This can speed up their destruction due to periodontal disease. The worst part is that many people aren’t even aware that they clench or grind their teeth unless they notice jaw or neck pain.

But your dentist can recognize the signs, such as flattened, chipped, or broken teeth, worn tooth enamel, damage from chewing the inside of your cheek, and more. A thorough exam by your dentist can identify whether you clench or grind your teeth. They can then offer options to mitigate the damage this causes, helping to prevent or stall periodontal disease.

Poor Nutrition or Obesity

Your body relies on the appropriate nutrients to remain healthy. If your diet is low in important nutrients, your immune system will be compromised. This means it will struggle to fight off infections. Since periodontal disease starts as an infection, this means you have a greater risk of developing it. Some studies have also indicated that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.


Sometimes, you can do absolutely everything right. But genetics may make you more susceptible to periodontal disease. Fortunately, there are genetic tests that can help identify this risk factor so you can begin treatment early and possibly avoid the more serious consequences of periodontal disease. Genetics may be a factor if you have close relatives, such as parents, siblings, or grandparents, who developed periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is a serious condition that affects much more than just your teeth and gums. As the disease advances, it can wreak havoc throughout your entire body. It’s critical that you identify your potential risk factors and take steps to reverse any damage as early as possible. Your mouth, and the rest of your body, will be better for it.