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Causes of Periodontal Disease

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures.  When bacteria  in the plaque and hardened calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected resulting in periodontitis.
  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  Smokers are more susceptible to infections like periodontal disease, and have a slower recovery and healing rate, making them less likely to respond positively to treatment. Smokers are far more likely to suffer from recurrent periodontal disease, as well as complications from surgery.
  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  It's important to detect gum disease in its early stages so that treatment is more effective.
  • Pregnancy and Menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive to the bacteria in plaque, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.
    Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections. Patients who have difficulty coping with stress can neglect their oral hygiene, may start grinding their teeth, and even see changes in their saliva production.
  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control. Likewise, poor periodontal health makes it more difficult to control blood sugar. Recent studies have also made a possible link between periodontal health and risk of cardio-vascular disease.
  • Grinding or clenching teeth – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can put excess force on the  supporting tissues surrounding the teeth and increase their destruction. Grinding one’s teeth  may be associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth, or with stress. You may need a nightguard if clenching or grinding occurs during sleep.
    Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines,  blood pressure medications, allergy medicines, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants and steroids can have side effects that affect the patient's oral health. These side effects can include dry mouth (xerostomia), gum overgrowth, or gum discolorations.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask us.