Somewhere between 75 and 85 percent of adult Americans develop gingivitis, and it progresses to moderate to severe periodontitis in 30 percent of the population [sources: ADHA, Sutton]. By far, the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. Establishing a regular brushing and flossing routine cuts your chances of getting gum disease. However, certain lifestyle behaviors can increase your risk. These risk factors include:
- Poor nutrition -- Poor nutrition lowers your body's ability to fight off invading germs, including the germs that cause gingivitis. Certain food choices directly affect your teeth, too. Sugary foods stick like glue to tooth enamel and attract and feed mouth bacteria; foods high in acid eat away tooth enamel.
- Stress -- Just like poor nutrition, stress lowers your immunity and gives bacteria a better chance to grow in your mouth. Stress can also disrupt your routines, causing you to skip brushing and flossing.
Improving your health through smart food choices and stopping unhealthy habits like smoking go a long way toward preventing gingivitis. But there's still one more step.