Causes of Gum Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria found in plaque. The damaging effects of these bacteria can be eliminated with proper home care (brushing twice daily and flossing once daily) and professional cleanings at least every six months from the hygienists at Health First Dental.

In addition to bacteria, the following factors also affect the health of your gums.

Smoking/Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.


Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people and getting them into early interceptive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Pregnancy and Puberty

During puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, the body experiences significant hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the tissues in the body, including the gums. Gums can become sensitive and more susceptible to gum disease. Additionally, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver pre-term, low birth weight babies.


Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress is also a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.


Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth commonly occurs during sleep. Clenching or grinding can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.


Diabetics are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause diabetes to be more difficult to control and infections to be more severe than in a non-diabetic person.

Poor Nutrition

A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of the gums.

Other Systemic Diseases

Diseases that interfere with the body’s immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.

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