During a family gathering, it’s fun to look around and observe the similarities between your loved ones. It’s no secret that physical features can be passed down from generation to generation. But did you know your genetic makeup can also put you at a higher risk of certain health conditions? According to the American Dental Association, genetics is a risk factor for developing gum disease. Read on to learn more about this and the steps you can take to keep your gums healthy.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection, just like cavities or tooth decay. The earliest stage of this condition is gingivitis, a state of gum inflammation. If left untreated, the disease can progress and spread into the inside of your teeth, tissues, and gums, potentially leading to tooth loss. Luckily, early detection and treatment can prevent and even reverse gum disease. That’s why routine dental checkups are so important!
If this disease runs in your family, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Buildup of pus between gums
- Loose-fitting teeth
- Receding gums
- Pockets of infection along the gum line
- Chronic bad breath
Is Gum Disease Genetic?
Does your family have a history of gum disease? If so, you’re more likely to have problems with your gums. Some studies show that periodontal disease does have a genetic component, especially for aggressive periodontitis. Others suggest that there might be a genetic link between our immune response and the development of chronic periodontitis. But despite what your family tree says, being proactive and following a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent it.
Tips to Prevent Gum Disease
Here are a few tips to prevent gum disease, even if you’re genetically predisposed to it:
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste! Don’t forget to floss daily as well. Ideally, you should floss right before bed to eliminate any harmful substances that accumulate throughout the day.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Monitor your intake of sugary, acidic, fatty, and processed foods as these can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Instead, eat a well-balanced diet that meets all your nutritional needs!
Avoid Tobacco Products
Smoking weakens the body’s immune system and makes it more difficult for your gums to fight off infection. To keep your mouth safe, avoid tobacco products at all costs.
Regularly Visit Your Dentist
Routine cleanings and checkups are crucial for preserving good oral health, especially if you’re at high risk of gum disease. If your dentist knows about your genetic predisposition, they can be more vigilant during exams and prevent, detect, or treat it before it worsens.
In short, yes – gum disease can run in the family. However, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to develop it. By practicing good oral hygiene and following a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your gums healthy no matter what your genes say!
About the Practice
At Flenniken Family Dentistry, our team has the skills, techniques, and technologies to help you achieve and maintain your absolute best smile. We offer comprehensive services that are bound to exceed even your highest expectations. If you’re at risk of gum disease, we have a dedicated periodontist on staff who can help you prevent it. Visit our website or call (717) 249-7777 to schedule an appointment.