Is gum disease hereditary?

Are you someone who practices good oral hygiene—brushing twice a day and flossing at least once—but your gums still bleed? Why is that?

Turns out, your genes may be the culprit! The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) has found genetics to be a contributing factor to gum disease.

What is gum disease? Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the structures supporting your teeth; from your gums, to the soft tissues of your mouth, and the bones that hold your teeth.

Types of gum disease


You may notice your gums look swollen, maybe they’re tender to the touch and bleed while you brush your teeth. These are all signs of early gum disease, or gingivitis. Is gingivitis hereditary? Yes, because gingivitis is a periodontal disease, you can be predisposed to it.


Gum disease starts in the gums, but can progress quickly! Over time, areas of the bone become infected, advancing your gum disease from gingivitis to periodontitis. Your gums will recede from your teeth and form pockets of bacteria and debris. This can result in tooth loss as the bone deteriorates.

Gum disease symptoms

How do I know I have gum disease? Millions of people are unaware that they have gum disease because most people don’t experience symptoms until the infection has progressed. Here are some warning signs that indicate you may have gum disease:

  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad Breath or bad taste
  • Pain while chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Change in bite
  • Change in denture fit

How do I prevent hereditary gum disease?

Practice good oral hygiene

As plaque builds up on your teeth and gums, it creates an acid, which breaks down your tooth enamel. Those with a family history of gum disease have a harder time fighting off plaque-causing bacteria than others without a family history of gum disease. Proper brushing and flossing help to remove plaque from your teeth and gums! Don’t forget, an ADA-approved fluoride mouthwash is a short-term gum disease treatment until you can visit our periodontists. Just make sure you use the mouthwash at a different time than when you brush your teeth, because it rinses away the fluoride from your toothpaste.

Know the risks

Ask your family if they’ve been diagnosed with gum disease! You may have an aunt or a cousin who has been diagnosed. Consider all risk factors of gum disease too. If you’re genetically predisposed to developing gum disease, it’s important to look at your lifestyle habits:

What do you eat? Committing to a healthy diet helps make sure your body has all the nutrients it needs to fight off gum disease-causing bacteria.

Do you smoke? Tobacco use is linked to a number of health issues including gum disease! In fact, smoking is the most significant factor of severe gum disease. Smoking not only weakens your immune system, but damages the soft tissues of your mouth, making it difficult for your gums to heal.

See a periodontist

Regular visits to your dentists and professional cleanings are great first defense against periodontal disease! But oftentimes, dentists can only diagnose gum disease after symptoms have started. If you have a family history of gum disease, it’s important that you schedule a comprehensive periodontal exam so you can prevent gum disease before it starts, or treat it in its early stages!

When you request an appointment with us, our certified periodontists will evaluate the health of your gums and teeth. Dr. Stilley, Dr. Medina, or Dr. Mashkouri will then design a treatment plan 100% just for you and your smile.

Have questions about gum disease in families?

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We want to help you feel at ease and comfortable during your deep cleaning treatment or procedure. We’re here to support you and your gums!

If you’re looking for a top periodontist in Tampa or New Port Richey, we’d love to meet you! Request an appointment today.

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