A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop periodontal disease with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your dentist or doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
- Poor oral hygiene is the most important risk factor.
- Smoking—Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. It also greatly reduces the chance that treatments for periodontal disease will be effective.
- Poor nutrition—An unhealthy diet, such as one that is high in fat and low in vitamin C, can increase your chance of periodontal disease.
- Stress—Stress can reduce your body’s ability to fight off the infection that prompts periodontal disease.
- Clenching or grinding your teeth due to stress may increase your chance of periodontal disease.
Conditions that increase your risk of periodontal disease include:
- Metabolic syndrome—A condition marked by elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, and body weight. Excess weight centered around the midsection is of particular concern.
In girls and women: conditions that cause changes in hormone levels, such as
- Herpes infections
- Autoimmune diseases, including
- Down syndrome
- Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
Taking certain medicines can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, such as:
Your risk of developing periodontal disease increases as you age.
Women are more likely than men to develop periodontitis. This is probably because of hormonal changes that women experience throughout their life cycle.
There seems to be a genetic tendency for certain people to develop periodontitis.
Other factors that may increase your risk of periodontitis include:
- Having badly fitting dentures and/or uneven fillings or crowns
- Being a habitual mouth breather
Gum disease risk factors. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: https://www.perio.org/consumer/risk-factors. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Gum (Periodontal) Disease. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/periodontaldisease/riskfactorsandprevention/01.html. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Periodontal disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/OralHealth/periodontal_disease/. Updated March 10, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Periodontal (gum) disease: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm#riskFactors. Accessed August 17, 2016.
5/28/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com: Nibali L, Tatarakis N, et al. Clinical review: Association between metabolic syndrome and periodontitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(3):913-920.
Last reviewed February 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Last Updated: 4/6/2021