What causes periodontal disease?

“I brush, I floss, I even use a Water Pik. I take good care of my teeth, but my dentist says I have periodontal disease. I feel like this is somehow my fault.”

Periodontal Disease

You may be surprised to learn that your periodontal disease may not be your fault. Periodontal disease is an infection, much like any other. And, like many other infections it can be contagious. That is it can be passed from one person to another, like through kissing for instance.

Periodontal disease is perhaps the most common chronic infection, affecting somewhere between 20 to 50% of adult populations worldwide. In fact it’s a special type of chronic infection called a biofilm infection. The American Academy of Periodontology puts the figure at 47.2% for adults in the U.S. Although poor oral hygiene certainly contributes to these numbers, periodontal disease can also commonly be caused or aggravated by many other factors including smoking, diabetes, advanced age, stress, chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) caused by a significant number of medications, hormone imbalances, genetic factors, and more.

According to a study by Richa Sharma, MDS, Department of Periodontology and Oral Implantology in an article published in Health and Medicine (4/26/17) it was explained that “Bacteria cause periodontal disease, but other factors determine how severe that disease will become….” External and internal “disease modifiers” including such factors as smoking, diabetes, and genetic variations contribute to some people developing more severe destruction than others. According to this article, “Genetics are a major determinant of the severity of chronic periodontitis in adults.” In other words even though you can’t inherit periodontitis you can inherit the propensity for a more severe case if you get it.

So, keep taking care of your teeth as you have been but investigate some of these other possibilities with your dentist to find out if there may be some other reason for your problem. And be careful who you’re kissing. For more information about periodontal biofilm infections go to All About Biofilms.

Periodontal Disease