A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop periodontal disease with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing periodontal disease. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your dentist or doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

  • Smoking—Smoking greatly increases your risk of developing periodontal disease. It also greatly reduces the chance that treatments for periodontal disease will be effective.
  • Poor nutrition—An unhealthy diet, such as one that is high in fat and low in vitamin C, can increase your chance of periodontal disease.
  • Stress—Stress can reduce your body’s ability to fight off the infection that prompts periodontal disease.

Conditions that increase your risk of periodontal disease include:

Taking certain medications can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, such as:

  • Birth control pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Heart medications
  • Medications used to treat seizures
  • Chemotherapy medications for cancer treatment
  • Medications used to treat AIDS
  • Immunosuppressant medications

Your risk of developing periodontal disease increases as you age.

Women are more likely than men to develop periodontitis, probably because of hormonal changes that women experience throughout their life cycle.

There seems to be a genetic tendency for certain people to develop periodontitis.

African Americans and people of Hispanic origin have a higher rate of periodontitis than do Caucasian Americans.

Other factors that may increase your risk of periodontitis include:

  • Having poor dental hygiene
  • Living in poverty
  • Having badly fitting dentures and/or uneven fillings or crowns
  • Being a habitual mouth breather