Why Gum Disease Is More Than Sore Gums And Tooth Loss

2012-06-07 |

Few aspects of health get as much continual marketing attention as oral health. You need only sit down for a half an hour in front of the television in order to see at least a few advertisements promoting some brand of tooth brush, tooth paste or mouthwash. The advertisers are usually convincing consumers of the importance of a healthy looking smile, good breath and a way to reduce bacteria in the mouth making this advertising a lot less about health and more about appearance.

However, good oral health is actually significantly more important than all the ads might lead one to believe. That is because it is not just the health of our mouth that is affected when we fail to care for our oral health as well as we should. In fact, a growing body of evidence continues to point to the wider implications of poor oral health and gum disease with respect to our overall well being.

How Common is Gum Disease And Who Is Most At Risk?

Despite all the advertising trying to sell us dental care products and the efforts of so many dentists to get us into their offices for a checkup and cleaning, gum disease is still fairly common. In the US, roughly 1 in 12 people has some form of gum disease including periodontitis and gingivitis. One in 20 people have gum disease in a moderate to severe form.

That said, research from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that these numbers may be conservative. Their analysis indicates that the rates of gum disease could be 50% higher than the previously stated numbers indicate.

Regardless of the exact numbers, there are also differences in the relative risks for different groups. Men have a greater than 60% higher risk of developing gum disease than do women. This is despite evidence that the regular hormonal changes that women experience actually increases their risk for gum disease.

Age And Race Affect Gum Disease Risk

Age and race are also important factors affecting gum health. People over the age of 35 have roughly 3 times the risk compared to those under 35. Roughly 1 in 6 adults over the age of 65 have diseases of the gums. Racially, African Americans have 3 times the risk, as do Caucasians. Hispanics have double the risk in comparison to Caucasians. These racial differences are less likely to be related to genetic differences in comparison to differences in social status.

Gum Disease Risks Linked To Lifestyle

Lifestyle differences also affect who is more likely to develop gum disease. Those who live closer to the poverty line have double to almost triple the risk in comparison to people with higher incomes. The same holds true for education levels with the least educated having 3 times the risk in comparison to those with a higher education. Lastly, people who smoke have roughly 3 times the risk of gum disease compared to people who have never done so.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention, General Health, Health Risks

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