Gingivitis and Your Genes

Have you ever gone to the dentist, expecting a good report, only to be fussed at by the hygienist for bleeding gums? You brushed, flossed, and stayed away from candy for the past six months -- so why on earth do you still have inflamed gums?

What is Gingivitis?

Inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, is caused by an inflammatory response in the tissue of your gums. Periodontal disease is another term you may have heard mentioned by your hygienist (as she stabs your gums with the sharp poking tool). Periodontal disease is a term that includes gingivitis, and then the next step - inflammation of the jaw bone and loose teeth.[ref] So what causes gingivitis? Lack of brushing and flossing...maybe. Smoking, for sure. But what if you do regularly brush and floss? And what about those people (you know who you are) who don't brush and floss but have healthy gums? Notably, the key here is the body's response to the bacteria and biofilm on the teeth. The mouth is teeming with bacteria, and your immune system is on high alert to keep those bacteria from crossing into the bloodstream. It isn't just about a little bleeding when you brush or floss. Gingivitis and the increased risk of heart disease are also connected. This connection may be due to increased systemic inflammation.[ref] Frequently, people with gingivitis have higher CRP levels on average than people without gingivitis. And people with periodontitis had even higher CRP levels.[ref]

Genetic variants associated with gingivitis

Your genetic variants in genes related to inflammatory cytokines can significantly increase your risk of having inflamed gums.

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