Family History & Gum Disease: Can You Keep it From Affecting You?

If you have a family history of gum disease, you may wonder if you'll experience the condition yourself. Although your family history places you at risk for gum disease, you can take steps to prevent it. Here are certain things to know about gum disease and how you can keep from getting it.

How Does Gum Disease Affect You?

Gum disease develops when bacteria grow out of control and infect the soft tissues surrounding your teeth, or gums. The organisms can grow out of control if you don't keep your teeth clean between meals, or when you experience a health condition that weakens your immune system, such as diabetes and smoking. Some sources also reveal that a person's family history may make them susceptible to gum disease.

Genetics may play a role in why some individuals develop gum disease and other people don't. Genetics refers to the genes (genetic markers) parents and grandparents pass down to their offspring. The genes may determine whether or not the offspring develops certain features, habits, and traits from their loved ones. For example, if your mother, grandmother, and aunt all have gum disease, you may also develop the oral condition in the future.

Although you can't change your genes, you can take steps to prevent gum disease from affecting you.

Can You Prevent Gum Disease?

The first step to keeping your gums healthy is to practice good oral hygiene or care. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss your teeth at least once per day. Change or discard your toothbrush every few months to reduce the bacteria inside your mouth. Also, use a soft-bristled toothbrush during your oral care. Harder bristles may cut, bruise, or damage your gums.

You can also eat crunchy vegetables and fruit during the day. Crunchy items help remove plaque and bacteria from between your teeth and close to your gumline. In addition, consume plenty of clear fluids during the day. Water, white tea, and other healthy beverages keep your gums moist and free of bacteria.

Finally, see a dentist for a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning allows a dentist to remove plaque from above your gumline as well as from behind your teeth. If possible, ask a dentist if they can test you for gum disease. Some providers may offer tests that detect the gene that causes gum disease, so it doesn't hurt to ask a dentist during your visit.

To learn more about your risk for gum disease or how to prevent it, contact a dentist today.