Gum disease is extremely common in American adults, but not many are aware of what puts them at risk of developing it. Everything from tobacco consumption to poor diet to hormone changes can increase your chances of developing gum disease. Here are a few of those risk factors:

Smoking and Other Tobacco Consumption

You probably don’t need to be reminded that smoking is bad for your health and that chewing tobacco isn’t better.  Not only do cigarettes, pipes and chewing tobacco increase a person’s cancer risk, it increases his/her chances of developing gum disease too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smokers double their risk of gum disease because a smoker’s immune system is already weakened, making it difficult for his/her body to fight off a gum infection.


Eating sugary and acidic food can also increase your risk of gum disease. While it’s impossible to completely remove sugar from your diet because most foods contain some form of it, it’s important to watch the amount of added sugar you’re consuming. It’s ok to reach for the occasional candy bar or soda, just don’t make them a substantial part of your died. Even Cookie Monster admits that “A cookie is a sometime food.”

The reason why sugar is problematic is the same reason acidic foods are. Both sugary and acidic foods increase acid in the mouth. The bacteria that causes gum disease thrives in acidic environments.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, particularly in women, are another gum disease risk. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are times in a woman’s life when she is more prone to gum disease. This is because, in the case of puberty and pregnancy, estrogen and progesterone can increase blood flow to the gums, potentially creating more tender and swollen gums. With menopause, the decline in estrogen can reduce saliva, allowing gum disease-causing bacteria to stay in the mouth longer.

It may seem like everything is a potential risk factor for gum disease, which is why it’s important to be honest with your dentist about what you’re consuming and if there are any major hormonal changes going on with your body.

Contact Dr. Makrauer at Huntingdon Valley Dental Arts to discuss any and all of your dental concerns.