7 Causes of Gum Disease

7 Causes of Gum Disease

Posted by BAY SMILE DESIGN on Jun 10 2023, 06:49 AM

You may not give much thought to your gums, but they play a vital role in keeping your teeth healthy. Unfortunately, many people can be affected by gum disease at some point in their lives. It's important to understand what causes this condition so that you can take steps to prevent it from happening. 

Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Plaque and tartar buildup is one of the most common causes of gum disease. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth when bacteria in your mouth combine with saliva and food particles. If it's not removed by brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional.

When plaque and tartar build up along the gum line, they can cause inflammation and irritation, leading to early stages of gum disease known as gingivitis. Symptoms include redness, swelling, and bleeding gums during brushing or flossing.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis - a more severe form of gum disease that damages tissues and bones supporting the teeth. This condition may lead to tooth loss if not treated promptly.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can play a significant role in the development of gum disease. Women, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, are more likely to experience hormonal fluctuations that can increase their risk of developing gum problems.

During these periods of life, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone may cause an increased blood flow to the gums, which could make them feel swollen and tender. This makes it easier for plaque to accumulate around the teeth leading to gingivitis or even periodontitis if left untreated.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Poor dental hygiene is one of the main causes of gum disease. When we neglect to brush and floss regularly, plaque builds up on our teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can harden into tartar over time.

Tartar buildup can irritate the gums and cause inflammation, leading to gingivitis or even periodontitis if left untreated. This makes it crucial for us to maintain proper oral hygiene habits, such as brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once daily.

Family History

Family history plays a significant role in the development of gum disease. Genetics can influence how your body reacts to harmful bacteria that cause gum inflammation and infection. If you have a family member with periodontitis, it is essential to inform your dentist as soon as possible.

Research shows that specific genes related to immune function affect an individual's susceptibility to periodontal disease. These genes may increase inflammatory responses or compromise the ability of white blood cells to fight off infections.


Smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease. The habit weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off infection in your gums. Additionally, smoking inhibits blood flow to the gums, which can lead to inflammation and damage over time.

Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop periodontitis than non-smokers, and the risk increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. Smokers also tend to experience more severe symptoms of gum disease, such as bleeding gums and tooth loss.


Stress is a part of everyday life, but it can have negative effects on our health if left unchecked. When we experience stress, our bodies release hormones that can lead to inflammation and weaken the immune system. This makes us more susceptible to gum disease.

In addition, stress often leads to poor oral hygiene habits, such as neglecting regular brushing and flossing. Stress also contributes to unhealthy lifestyle choices like smoking and eating sugary foods that can further increase the risk of gum disease.

Certain Medications

Certain medications can increase the risk of gum disease. Some drugs cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva production and affects the balance of bacteria in your mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and neutralizes harmful acids that develop from plaque buildup. When there is less saliva in the mouth, it creates an environment where bacteria can thrive, leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

Call (408) 830-0123 for an appointment or visit our office at 1298 Kifer Road, Suite #501, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. Our dedicated dentists and staff will gladly take care of you!

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