Periodontal Health

Lifestyle Impacts Periodontal Health

Chicago - Most people who smoke, don't have nutritional diets or experience a lot of stress know they aren't doing their hearts any favors. What they may not know is that they aren't doing their mouths any favors either. In fact, lifestyle choices can put people at increased risk for periodontal disease and tooth loss.

"Although plaque is the primary cause of periodontal disease, oral hygiene is definitely not the only factor affecting periodontal health that people have control over," said Litvin, DDSa local periodontist and member of the American Academy of Periodontology. "People who want to keep their teeth for a lifetime can do a lot more than regular brushing, flossing and dental visits to help protect their smiles."
For example:

Quit smoking

Recent research indicates that smoking may be responsible for more than half of the cases of periodontal disease among adults in this country. A study published in the May, 2000 issue of the Journal of Periodontology found that current smokers are about four times more likely than people who have never smoked to have advanced periodontal disease. However, 11 years after quitting, former smokers' likelihood of having periodontal disease was not significantly different from those who had never smoked.

Eat a balanced diet

A diet low in important nutrients can make it harder for the body to fight infections, such as periodontal disease. A study published in the July, 2000 issue of the Journal of Periodontology found that men and women who had calcium intakes of fewer than 500 milligrams, or about half the recommended dietary allowance, were almost twice as likely to have periodontal disease.

Try to reduce stress or deal with stress in a practical way

Stress also makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection. In fact, high levels of financial stress and poor coping abilities increase twofold the likelihood of developing periodontal disease, according to a study published in July, 1999 issue of the Journal of Periodontology. However, people who dealt with their financial strain in an active and practical way (problem-focused) rather than with avoidance techniques (emotion-focused) had no more risk of severe periodontal disease than those without money problems.

"I talk with my patients about risk factors for periodontal disease. What they sometimes don't realize is that while some of their bad habits may not catch up with them until they are in their 50s and 60s, periodontal disease and tooth loss can be a very real threat for people in their 30s and 40s," said Dr, Litvin.