What causes gum disease?


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Oral Hygiene and Dental Therapy
ADOH (Adel)

What causes gum diseaseGum disease, also known as periodontal disease, has just one cause – bacteria – and the main repository for bacteria in the mouth is dental plaque.

But gum disease has many contributing factors, and these influence the severity and extent of any damage to the gums and surrounding bone. Such factors include smoking, pregnancy, poor diet, autoimmune disorders, irregular dental visits and poor oral hygiene.


The link between smoking and gum disease is not familiar to many people. Smoke inhalation restricts blood flow to the gums, masks the signs and symptoms of gum disease, and slows the healing process. Smoking also reduces the salivary flow in the mouth, which can lead to an increase in the bacteria that causes gum disease.


The hormone changes that occur during pregnancy can cause the body to overreact to the bacteria in the mouth. While you may have the same levels of bacteria as you usually do with no problems, when you are pregnant your body has a heightened response to the bacteria, resulting in swelling and inflammation of the gums known as pregnancy gingivitis. If you are pregnant and your gums bleed spontaneously or on brushing or flossing, you should see your dental practitioner.

Poor diet

A lack of vitamin C from fresh citrus fruits can cause a breakdown in the collagen that holds our gums tight against our teeth, in turn creating pockets for bacteria to settle in. These opportunities for infection can compromise the bone surrounding the tooth. A lack of vitamin C can also cause poor wound healing, which may hinder a normal response to treatment.

Autoimmune disorders

There are many autoimmune disorders, including uncontrolled diabetes, lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome. Autoimmune disorders cause a person’s immune system attack their own cells, tissues and/or organs. People with autoimmune disorders are at much higher risk for periodontal disease.

Irregular dental visits

Not visiting your dentist regularly can lead to a build-up of calculus (hardened bacteria) on your teeth and under your gums, which can lead to gum disease if left untreated. This can happen relatively quickly if there are other contributing factors present.

Poor oral hygiene

Having poor oral hygiene increases the amount of bacteria in the mouth, irritating the gums and leading to gum disease. Brushing twice daily and flossing once per day is essential for helping to maintain healthy gums.

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*The contents of this blog post are of a general nature only and may not apply to your specific circumstances. As every person is different we always recommend that you visit a qualified dental practitioner to obtain tailored dental advice to suit your own specific needs.

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