What Causes Gum Disease?

Mar 14, 2023

Did you know that over 40% of adults 30 and over have some form of gum disease? This makes it one of the most common tooth-related health conditions.  

Treating gum disease can be an ongoing battle, but with the help of a dentist and a good oral health routine, you’ll be on your way toward recovery. 

The question is, what causes this disease in the first place? The obvious answer is plague buildup, but is it the only factor at play? The answer is no. 

Check out this dental care guide to learn more about the causes of gum disease. 

What Is Gum Disease?

In short, gum disease is caused by the tissues that keep your teeth where they need to be. 

The first warning signs of this disease include swollen, red, and bleeding gums. You may find it hard to eat your favorite meals. If left alone for too long, it could eventually lead to tooth loss. 

Plaque Buildup

Plaque is a thick film that forms on your teeth when the sugars from your food interact with bacteria in your mouth. 

When you don’t brush and floss the way you should, and plaque is allowed to sit on your teeth, it will harden around your gumline and turn into tartar. Tartar is a little more difficult to get rid of than simple plaque because you can’t brush it away. You have to make an appointment with your local dentist. 

If you don’t go in for a tooth cleaning, tartar will cause gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease and can be reversed with regular dental care. Untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease, which is a lot more serious. 


Plaque buildup is only one of many things that can cause a person to develop gum disease. Tobacco use is a nasty habit that interferes with your gum’s regular cell function. This makes you more vulnerable to infections such as periodontal disease. 

Chewing tobacco and cigarettes are both guilty of harming your gums. To avoid further health problems, it’s best to kick the habit as soon as you can. 

Hormonal Shifts

Women who are pregnant or in the middle of their menstrual cycle experience rapid hormonal shifts. Unfortunately, the constant hormonal up and down can cause you to develop gum disease. 

That doesn’t mean you should start panicking as soon as you realize you’re expecting. It only means that you need to be a little more cautious when it comes to your oral health. Don’t forget to brush and talk to your dentist regularly. 

If your gums do happen to become red and puffy during your pregnancy, know that it will most likely go away after the birth of your child. 

Nutritional Deficiencies 

While vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries, it still affects 1 in 20 people. Not drinking enough orange juice can be harmful to your gums. This is especially true if your diet is packed full of carbohydrates and sugar. 

Back off on the sodas and find ways to work more vitamin C in your diet. You should also make sure that you’re getting plenty of water. 

Crooked Teeth

Those with crooked teeth are at risk of developing gum disease due to crowding. It gives plaque more places to hide from your toothbrush. 

If your teeth overlap a little, you’ll have to be extra diligent in your flossing to lure that pesky plaque out of hiding. 


Some prescription medications can reduce saliva production and cause you to develop dry mouth. Not only is this condition uncomfortable, but it can also encourage bacterial growth throughout your mouth. 

If you’re experiencing difficulty swallowing, mouth dryness, sore throat, or a changed sense of taste, contact your regular doctor as soon as possible. They may be able to prescribe a new medication. 

Family History

If you have a family history of gum disease, communicate that with your dentist. While you may not develop gum disease because your dad has it, you may be more at risk. 

Your dentist can help you fight a bacterial infection before it has the chance to set in. 

Treating Gum Disease 

Again, gum disease is reversible. The treatment option your dentist chooses to go with depends on what stage of gum disease you’re in and your overall health. 

If you have gingivitis, a regular dental cleaning should do the trick as long as you pick up good oral care habits at home.

Depending on your level of gingivitis, your dentist may have to opt for a scaling and root planing treatment. This is a deep cleaning that reaches into your gumline. After cleaning your teeth, the dentist will smooth down any rough spots on the roots of your teeth. 

Those with advanced periodontal disease may only have surgical options available to them. One of the most common procedures is pocket reduction surgery. 

Your dentist will make incisions along your gumline to move your gums away from your teeth. They’ll then remove any tartar buildup and reposition your gums. 

Dental bone grafts will rebuild areas of your mouth that have been heavily damaged by gum disease. If you’ve experienced gum recession, your dentist may suggest a gum graft. 

Talk to Your Dentist Today 

Treating gum disease is possible no matter what stage you’re at. If your condition has turned into periodontal disease, your dentist may suggest a surgical option.

In most cases, however, a simple cleaning will do the trick. Schedule an appointment with one of our dental health professionals today!