Risk factors for heart attack include; age, tobacco, high blood pressure, lipid profile, diabetes, family history of heart attack, lack of physical activity, obesity, stress, illicit drug use, history of preeclampsia, history of autoimmune condition such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis and so on and so on.
Why have all these risk factors been identified? Because it is better to prevent a heart attack than it is to have one. Risk factor identification and modification is the cornerstone of preventive healthcare.
The list of risk factors for periodontal disease is similar, and includes; tobacco use, diabetes, stress, heredity, medication induced xerostomia, poor oral hygiene, hormones, connective tissue disorders, poor nutrition, and so on and so on. The biggest risk factor leading to gum disease, however, are the specific bacteria. The giants in the field of periodontal research are Dr. Anne Haffajee and the late Dr. Sig Socransky, whose groundbreaking studies that led to the identification of those disease causing periodontal pathogens, stated the following; “The ultimate risk factor for an infectious disease is the causative agent of that disease. Without that agent, no disease will take place no matter what other risk factors the subject may possess”. In the case of periodontal disease those agents are the bacteria.
There you have it. It is better to prevent periodontitis than it is to have it. Would you have better success with your prevention strategy if you knew what bacteria each patient was harboring? Wouldn’t it be better to know what disease causing bacteria were lurking below the gumline? You bet.
This is not rocket science.