Periodontitis: Top Risk Factors and Vital Steps for Diagnosis

periodontal diseaseGenerally speaking, taking good care of your oral and dental health should be as simple as cultivating a well-rounded at-home oral hygiene routine and getting dental checkups regularly. Sometimes, however, good dental hygiene habits can fall to the wayside or be ignored altogether. Failing to take care of your oral hygiene can have serious consequences, namely tooth decay and periodontitis.

The diagnosis of periodontitis typically involves carefully examining the current condition of the teeth and gums. If you notice that your gums are red, swollen, tender, or bleed when you brush your teeth, then you most likely have some form of periodontal disease.

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a chronic oral inflammatory infection. Bacterial microorganisms develop over time inside your mouth and invade your oral cavity. However, if they are left too long undisturbed it can  cause gum inflammation that can lead to eventual bone and tooth loss if left untreated for too long. As the gums become increasingly inflamed by bacterial infection, they slowly begin to pull away from the teeth. The teeth eventually become loose and can fall out.

Moreover, periodontal bacteria can also cause tooth decay or erosion, leading to serious cavities and internal infections that are often associated with a series of other health conditions. Plaque and tartar buildup in the mouth have been linked to cardiovascular and lung disease, among several other illnesses.

What Are the Top Risk Factors of Periodontitis?

According to the Canadian Dental Association, approximately 70% of Canadians are likely to develop periodontal disease at some point during their lifetime. With proper at-home and professional dental care, severe periodontitis is completely avoidable and even manageable.  Many adults develop unhealthy habits throughout their lives that can hinder and even deteriorate their oral health.

Here are some of the biggest periodontitis risk factors that can derail your journey to having healthy gums and teeth:

Long-Term Smoking

By now, everyone is well aware of the negative impact smoking has on human health—and it’s not just respiratory health. Cigarettes contain thousands of harmful toxins that infiltrate your bloodstream and prevent your organs from receiving and absorbing a sufficient supply of oxygen needed to function normally. Many of these toxins also weaken your body’s immune response when presented with harmful bacteria and infections. Eventually, these bacteria can spread from your mouth to other parts of your body and suffocate your organs, causing them to shut down.

Bacteria caused by toxins in cigarettes and chewing tobacco can also infect your oral cavity and lead to serious tooth decay, tooth discolouration gum disease and eventual tooth loss.

Genetic Factors

If periodontal disease runs in your family, then there’s a chance that you might develop it, too. It’s estimated that approximately a quarter of adults are genetically predisposed to developing periodontal disease in their lifetime. Luckily, genetic testing is available to indicate whether genetics is a factor for individuals.

Advanced Age

Another common factor for developing periodontal disease is age. Getting older comes with a variety of potential ailments, and unfortunately, severe gum disease and tooth decay are included. Whether you’re genetically susceptible or you don’t take good care of your teeth, periodontitis can take a toll on your teeth as you get older.

Men are typically more likely to develop severe periodontitis as they get older, presumably due to a higher rate of poor dental hygiene. Older adults are also more likely to require more medication, which can have adverse side effects like chronic dry mouth. This can increase the development of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease.


People with diabetes are more susceptible to developing infections, and this includes gum diseases such as periodontal disease. Diabetes also weakens the body’s natural immune response and makes it difficult or impossible to fight off bacterial infections caused by periodontal disease.


Stress is also a notable risk factor of periodontal disease. When individuals experience mild or severe physical or mental stress, the body releases an abundance of cortisol—also known as the stress hormone. For decades, psychological stress has been linked to serious health conditions including periodontal disease. Stress weakens the body’s nervous system and prevents it from being able to fight off infections and other illnesses. A large influx of cortisol in the system also prevents the organs and tissues from properly absorbing oxygen in the bloodstream, leading to severe inflammation.

Lack of Oral Hygiene

Failing to take good care of your teeth is another leading risk factor in developing gum disease in varying forms. Food particles that get stuck between your teeth will eventually begin to rot and release harmful bacteria that cause plaque and tartar buildup, which leads to tooth decay. Brushing your teeth simply isn’t enough to prevent this. Flossing removes the majority of food particles that brushing leaves behind, so it’s important to practice a dental hygiene routine that includes both along with professional teeth cleanings.

How to Diagnose Periodontal Disease

Early diagnosis of periodontitis is critical in preventing the bacteria from spreading to other parts of your body. Here are a few steps dentists take during the diagnosis process:

  • Review personal and family medical history. To rule out a genetic predisposition for periodontitis, your dentist or doctor will look at your personal and family history to see what your chances are of developing severe gum disease.
  • Perform clinical testing. Your periodontal dentist will perform a thorough clinical examination at their practice to assess the health and quality of your teeth and gums.
  • Order dental X-rays. Following your clinical examination, your dentist will order a series of X-rays to confirm the diagnosis of periodontitis and bone loss. This is the only effective way to determine whether or not you have periodontal disease.

Get Periodontitis Disease Treatment at Princeview Dental Group in the GTA

At Princeview Dental Group in the GTA, we have over 30 years of experience in treating a variety of dental emergencies and diseases, including periodontitis. Our staff is completely committed to ensuring the absolute safety, comfort and well-being of all of our patients, regardless of age or dental conditions. We treat our patients with respect and offer professional dental treatments that address specific oral health issues you may be experiencing. Contact us today to learn more or to book an appointment.

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