Risk factors for periodontitis

It isn’t just smokers who are at increased risk of developing periodontitis. Poor dental care or a genetic predisposition are also factors that influence the course of the disease.

Periodontitis is a disease in which several different factors are responsible for the development, extent and course of the disease. Although bacteria are the main cause, there are also other risk factors. If a patient is affected by more than one of these risk factors, there is a higher probability that he/she will develop periodontitis.

These risk factors include:

Insufficient or inappropriate dental care

If you do not prevent the bacteria from proliferating and spreading by means of regular and careful dental care, plaque forms quickly. It is difficult to get rid of this sticky mass by means of superficial tooth brushing. As time goes by, the plaque hardens to form calculus, which causes irritation and inflammation of the gums. If nothing is done, this can lead to periodontitis in the long term or exacerbate existing periodontitis.

Genetic background

Although bacteria are the main cause of periodontitis, the patient’s individual genetic background still plays an important role. This is what ultimately determines how quickly the disease progresses. In the presence of certain interleukin-1 gene variations, for example, the immune system reacts more intensely to the bacteria than normal. This results in the disease progressing more rapidly in patients with this genetic background than in other people. Such patients must therefore be even more meticulous about their dental care and have their gums checked regularly.

General diseases

It has been proven that various diseases have an negative influence on periodontitis progression. Diabetes mellitus in particular can predispose to periodontitis if blood glucose levels are poorly controlled.


Because the connective tissue slackens generally during pregnancy, it is easier for bacteria to get into the space between teeth and gums and cause gingivitis. If this is not treated, it can rapidly develop into periodontitis.

Infection spread

Periodontitis is an infectious disease. If a family member or partner has it, there is an increased probability of it being spread from one person to another. In order to prevent the bacteria from spreading, there should be no sharing of tooth-brushing utensils or cutlery. Important to know: The bacteria can also be spread via kissing.


Stress has a generally negative impact on the body. The immune system and periodontitis are no exception to this rule. Stress is also often expressed in teeth grinding, which represents an additional strain on the teeth and jaw.


An unbalanced diet can further fuel infection. It is recommended that you follow a balanced diet and reduce its sugar content. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins C and D should also have a positive influence on the immune system, enabling it to respond appropriately to the infection.


Smokers are at approximately 3 times greater risk of developing periodontitis. This disease is often not discovered until a very late stage in smokers, however. This is due to the fact that gingival blood flow is impaired by nicotine and bleeding gums, the main warning sign of periodontitis, is therefore absent or only slight. For this reason, smokers should be particularly meticulous about their dental care and visit their dentist regularly.


Some medicines favor the development of periodontitis. This applies to antihypertensive agents, for example, or drugs used to suppress the immune response.