Periodontal disease (PD) encompasses both gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are initiated by plaque and are influenced by the immune and inflammatory responses of each individual. In addition, PD is modified by several risk factors including smoking, medications, alcohol, age, gender and systemic diseases.
Gingivitis affects 50–90% of adults worldwide and is reversible by simple, effective oral hygiene and lifestyle changes. Between 10–15% of the global adult population suffer from progressive periodontitis, which if left un-
attended, results in halitosis, pain and loss of teeth.
As dental plaque is the principal etiological factor in the pathogenesis of PD, effective oral hygiene and plaque removal is the most important strategy in the pre-
vention of this disease. There is also evidence that PD has several modifiable risk factors in common with cer-
tain non-communicable chronic diseases like diabetes.
Therefore, to prevent PD, the approach of controlling the common risk factors could be an effective strategy.
Potential risk-factor entry points are reduction of tobacco use, reduction in consumption of harmful levels of alcohol, a healthy diet and good nutrition and improvement of personal hygiene. Whilst PD is not contagious it can become extremely common and debilitating, given the ideal environment. This paper discusses the risk factors and identifies options by which PD can be prevented and reduced.