What Causes Gum Disease?
A gradual buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria at the gum line is typically the main cause of periodontal disease (more commonly known as gum disease). While poor oral hygiene is often the main culprit for plaque and bacterial accumulation, there are additional risk factors that can increase your chances for developing gum disease, such as:
- Smoking: Smoking (and/or other tobacco product use) can reduce the gum tissue’s ability to repair itself, making the gums more susceptible to harmful bacteria.
- Hormonal changes: Puberty, monthly menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause alter the body’s level of hormones and can cause increased gum sensitivity, which may also increase the likelihood of developing gum disease.
- Certain medical conditions: Patients who have an illness that compromises the immune system, such as cancer or HIV, can have weakened defenses against the harmful bacteria that cause periodontal disease. In addition, diabetes has been known to increase the risk of periodontal issues due to the fact that individuals with this medical condition are more prone to developing infections.
- Medication that decreases saliva: Saliva acts to protect the gums and teeth against harmful bacteria. When saliva production is slowed, the risk for developing gum disease can increase.
While brushing and flossing twice daily and scheduling routine oral exams are the best ways to prevent gum disease, understanding these additional risk factors can help you better protect yourself against periodontal complications. To learn more information about how you can minimize your risk for gum disease, or to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced dentists, please contact us today.