Risk assesment

Gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by a biofilm (dental plaque) that is made up of an average of 150 different types of bacteria. Not everyone with poor oral hygiene will develop periodontitis. Factors other than microbes have an effect on the disease process.

During the consultation we make an assessment with you of the significance of each risk factor. We then arrange to carry out a course of appropriate treatment.

The following factors may play a role:

1. Smoking

All studies pinpoint smoking as the main risk factor for causing and exacerbating periodontitis. Smokers have significantly more dental plaque, more deepened pockets between the teeth and the gums and a higher degree of bone loss around the teeth. This means that in smokers, the risk of the treatment not being successful is also greater.

Smoking masks the signs of gum inflammation, such as redness and bleeding. People who stop smoking are likely to notice after a few weeks that their gums are more inclined to bleed. This indicates gingivitis or periodontitis. We advise all of our patients to stop smoking. They can obtain help in doing so from their GP or by visiting www.tabakstop.be.

2. Age

Children and adolescents have a less than 1% risk of suffering from periodontitis. The chance of developing periodontitis increases with age, as is the case with any other chronic disease. Recent epidemiological research demonstrates that 47% of the over-40s in the United States have periodontitis (source: Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, USA, Journal of Dental Research). In people aged over 65, the risk rises to 70%.

3. Gender

Women appear to take better care of their teeth than men. Yet this fact yields virtually no difference in oral health between men and women. Hormonal changes during the life of a woman (menstruation, pregnancy) may have an effect on the gums, resulting in more signs of inflammation.

4. Stress

Stress influences the way the body’s immune system responds to bacterial infections such as periodontitis.

5. Heredity

Part of the population appears to be genetically predisposed to develop periodontitis. Optimum oral hygiene and good professional dental care is not always enough for these patients to guarantee they will keep their teeth.

6. Links with other disorders

According to the latest insights, there may be a common factor that plays a role in a person’s predisposition to develop periodontitis, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Healthy gums can keep the whole body more healthy. Patients with diabetes who have their periodontitis treated and who maintain good oral hygiene are likely to be able to control their blood sugar levels better than diabetics with untreated periodontitis.

7. Grinding teeth

A person with poor oral hygiene who also suffers from grinding or clenching their teeth, may place an additional burden on this tissue surrounding their teeth, resulting in greater bone loss.

8. Medication

Some types of medication can cause a dry mouth. This makes it more difficult to remove dental plaque from the surface of the teeth during the daily oral hygiene routine. Other medications can result in definite swollen gums if the person’s oral hygiene is not as good as it should be.