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Is Gum Disease Genetic?

June 25th, 2014

Gum disease, also called periodontitis or periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround the teeth that affects roughly half of American adults aged 30 and up, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other serious complications.

So what causes gum disease? Is it genetic?

According to a 2000 study, genetic factors may play a critical role in about half of the cases of periodontal disease. Up to 30% of the population may have some genetic susceptibility to periodontal disease. However, genetic tests can now be used to determine susceptibility, and early intervention can help keep the oral cavity healthy.

While genes play a proven factor in the likeliness of getting gum disease, it’s more often than not the result of poor oral hygiene. Gum disease begins when plaque begins to build up on your teeth, and isn’t removed through daily brushing and flossing. When it’s not removed, it begins to harden and become tartar, which has to be removed via a professional dental cleaning.

If you don’t remove plaque or tartar, they will begin to cause damage. First, your gums will become irritated and inflamed. This is known as gingivitis, or the mildest form of periodontal disease.

Ongoing inflammation that is left untreated will cause pockets to develop between the gums and teeth. This leads to the advanced stages of gum disease, and these deep infections can cause loss of tissue, bone, and teeth.

If you believe that you have gum disease, it’s important that you see a dentist and discuss treatment and prevention.