What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. It is caused by bacteria that build up in the mouth. The bacteria irritate the gums, which causes the gum to separate from the teeth. This creates space between the gums and the teeth, serving as a nest for the bacteria to grow. Over time, the bacteria can lead to the destruction of the bone, causing teeth to become loose, fall out, or be lost. Gum disease is preventable through daily oral hygiene and routine dental visits.

Here are the most common causes of gum disease:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of gum disease. When you don't brush and floss regularly, you let the bad bacteria in your proliferate and spread to your gums which can over time lead to gum disease.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the number one cause of gum disease. Cigarette smoke is full of toxins, which contain chemicals that irritate gum tissues. It also increases plaque buildup, which irritates gum tissues.

Tobacco use causes gum disease and tooth loss, so it's important to quit.


Diabetes can negatively affect all aspects of your health, including your oral health. In addition to making blood sugar levels harder to control, diabetes increases your risk of gum disease.

Diabetes can affect your gums in a variety of ways. People with uncontrolled diabetes may have more plaque and tartar on their teeth. Since diabetes makes it difficult for your body to fight off infections, gum disease is more likely. Diabetes can also increase your risk of dry mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, you are more likely to have tooth decay and cavities.

Certain Medications

Certain medications are known to cause gum disease. Antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, diuretics, and antidepressants can all cause dry mouth. Dry mouth is a risk factor for gum disease. Medications that reduce saliva can also affect the health of your teeth. For example, medications like antihistamines cause dry mouth. In turn, dry mouth can cause tooth decay.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, menopause, and puberty, can cause gums to react. The gum tissue can become sensitive and bleed easily. Hormones also can lower the body's ability to fight infections. As a result, the gums may be more susceptible to gum disease. To prevent problems, be sure to maintain proper oral hygiene.


Your genes may have a part to play in your likelihood of developing gum disease. If your parents or other family members had gum disease, you might be more likely to get it, too.

Call us at 636-532-2101 or schedule an appointment online to consult our dentist at Licata Dental.

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