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Gum Disease - What Increases Your Risk

You are more likely to have gum disease if you don't brush and floss your teeth regularly or well enough to remove plaque.

You are at greater risk for gum disease if:

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  • You smoke cigarettes or use spit tobacco. Tobacco use is believed to be one of the biggest risks for gum disease. Tobacco decreases your ability to fight infection, interferes with healing, and makes you more likely to have serious gum disease that results in tooth loss.
  • Gum disease runs in your family. If you have a family history of gum disease, you are much more likely than normal to develop it, even if you take good care of your teeth and gums.
  • You are a woman going through the hormonal changes caused by puberty, menopause, or pregnancy.
  • You have a disease that reduces your ability to fight infection, such as uncontrolled diabetes, AIDS, or leukemia.
  • You are under a lot of stress. Stress can weaken your immune system and make you more likely to develop infections.
  • You eat a diet that is low in vitamins and minerals, which can weaken your immune system, or high in sugary foods and other carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread), which help plaque grow.
  • You take certain medicines, such as:
    • Seizure-control drugs like phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek).
    • Calcium channel blockers, which are used to control high blood pressure or for people with certain heart problems.
    • Cyclosporine, a medicine that suppresses the immune system. It is used to keep the body from rejecting transplanted organs.
    • Birth-control pills.
    • Medicines used to treat cancer (chemotherapy).
    • Drugs that block androgen to treat prostate cancer.3
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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