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The Main Causes of Gum Disease

Dr. Levin Speaks at the Southern Implants international conference in Durban, South Africa
May 22, 2024
Dr. Levin Speaks at the Southern Implants international conference in Durban, South Africa
May 22, 2024

Montgomery County’s Trusted Periodontist 

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common yet serious condition that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and other health complications. At the office of Dr. Barry Levin, we are dedicated to helping our patients understand the causes of gum disease to better prevent and manage this condition. Let’s explore the main causes of gum disease and how you can protect your oral health.

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

The most significant cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Inadequate brushing and flossing can lead to the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, which is much more challenging to remove and can only be cleaned by a dental professional. The bacteria in plaque and tartar produce toxins that irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.

2. Smoking and Tobacco Use

Smoking and using other tobacco products significantly increase the risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco use weakens the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off a gum infection. Additionally, smoking hinders the healing process of the gums, exacerbating the condition and making treatment less effective.

3. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes in women can also make gums more sensitive and susceptible to gum disease. This is particularly evident during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. During these times, the increase in hormone levels can cause the blood vessels in the gums to become more susceptible to bacterial infection, leading to inflammation and gum disease.

4. Genetic Predisposition

Research has shown that genetics can play a role in the susceptibility to gum disease. If you have a family history of periodontal disease, you may be at a higher risk. While you cannot change your genetic makeup, being aware of your predisposition allows you to take preventive measures and maintain a rigorous oral hygiene routine.

5. Chronic Illnesses

Certain chronic illnesses can affect your oral health and increase the risk of gum disease. Diabetes, in particular, is closely linked with periodontal disease. Diabetic individuals are more prone to infections, including gum infections, due to higher blood sugar levels that can promote bacterial growth. Other conditions such as heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and immune disorders can also contribute to gum disease.

6. Medications

Some medications can have side effects that impact your oral health. Certain drugs, such as antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, and antidepressants, can reduce saliva flow, leading to dry mouth. Saliva is essential for protecting the teeth and gums by washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. A decrease in saliva can create an environment conducive to gum disease.

7. Poor Nutrition

A diet lacking in essential nutrients can weaken the immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infections, including gum disease. In particular, a deficiency in vitamin C can lead to scurvy, which causes gum bleeding and inflammation. A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals supports overall health and helps maintain healthy gums.

Contact Our Montgomery County Periodontist Today

Understanding the main causes of gum disease is the first step in preventing and managing this condition. At the office of Dr. Barry Levin, we emphasize the importance of regular dental check-ups, proper oral hygiene, and a healthy lifestyle to keep your gums healthy. If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums, don’t hesitate to contact us today to schedule your appointment.