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.
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.
Taking certain medications can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, such as: Birth control pillsAntidepressantsHeart medications
Medications used to treat
medications for cancer treatment
Medications used to treat AIDSImmunosuppressant medications
Your risk of developing periodontal disease increases as you age.
Women are more likely than men to develop periodontitis, 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.
African Americans and people of Hispanic origin have a higher rate of periodontitis than do Caucasian Americans.
Other factors that may increase your risk of periodontitis include: Having poor dental hygieneLiving in povertyHaving badly fitting dentures and/or uneven fillings or crownsBeing a habitual mouth breather
Gum disease. American Dental Association Mouth Healthy website. Available at:
Accessed July 27, 2011.
Gum disease risk factors. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at:
Accessed October 14, 2013.
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 October 14, 2013.
5/28/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Nibali L, Tatarakis N, Needleman I, 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 September 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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