Apr 1, 2011
While periodontal or gum disease is primarily a result of poor oral hygiene, there can be a genetic component to it as well, with as many as 33% of Americans genetically predisposed to hereditary periodontal diseases. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that leads to pain and inflammation, and can cause tooth or bone loss in the mouth. Regular dental care is critical for staving off periodontal disease, but those with a hereditary component must be extra cautious.
For those who are predisposed to gum disease, this does not mean that they are destined to also get gum disease at an early age, as their parents may have. However, this does mean that they should take precautions more so than the typical person. First, the family with a history of gum disease should ensure that the children are having their gum health checked every time they go to the dentist for a checkup. The dentist should be told of the genetic predisposition so that he or she will be aware of what issues to be on the lookout for – issues that may not be a concern in younger children without a genetic component to their oral health.
As children get older, they should be made aware of the need for good oral hygiene, to include regular brushing and flossing, as well as the heightened need for regular dental checkups. In fact, a visit to a periodontist may be warranted, so that the dental specialist can conduct a thorough periodontal exam as a baseline to have in that person’s records.
And while dental treatments have evolved such that those with a hereditary component to their gum disease will not necessarily lose their teeth, this does not negate the need for vigilance. Not only are regular visits to a dentist and/or periodontist needed, but you should also be sure to alert your dental professional as to any potential problems or issues before they devolve into loose teeth or bleeding gums.
It has also recently been affirmed that gum disease can have a contagious element to it – in other words, you can get gum disease from someone else, especially if you’re more predisposed to it in the first place. A recent case showed a woman with no history of cavities suddenly finding herself with tooth issues after dating a man who had very poor oral hygiene habits. Gum disease can also be transmitted between spouses or between parent and child. Furthermore, if both spouses have aggressive gum disease and just one of them is treated, the untreated person can pass the infection back to the treated spouse. Yet again, this denotes another reason why everyone should practice equally stellar oral hygiene habits.
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