8 Common Causes of Gum Disease You Should Guard Against

Know the early signs of gum disease

It is possible to prevent gum disease.

Periodontal disease, or gum disease as it’s often called, poses a significant threat to oral health in adults age 30 and older. CDC statistics show that nearly half of adults have some level of gum disease, and the percentage only increases with age: close to 70% of adults over age 65 have periodontal disease.

While tooth decay targets the tooth itself, periodontal disease is far more destructive to a person’s overall smile. When left untreated, advanced periodontitis causes extensive inflammation, tooth loss, and jawbone loss.

To maintain optimal oral health and prevent tooth loss, you should actively prevent gum disease. You can begin protecting your smile from periodontal disease by being aware of these eight common causes.

1. Poor Oral Hygiene

Our mouths have a rich bacterial microbiome. A healthy mouth will have mostly good bacteria present, but bad bacteria can flourish easily when oral hygiene isn’t prioritized. Make sure you’re brushing at least twice a day for two minutes each time, or even after every meal. Don’t forget to floss daily as well to remove stuck food and stimulate your gums!

2. Plaque Buildup

Gingivitis, the precursor to gum disease, starts because of plaque buildup pushing into and irritating the gums. Plaque can be controlled through a great at-home oral hygiene routine, but even the most fastidious brusher can’t remove all traces of it. For this reason, it’s important to never skip your six-month checkups and cleanings as only a skilled hygienist will be able to remove all plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) from your teeth.

3. Crooked or Crowded Teeth

Teeth that are crooked or crowded are more likely to trap plaque than teeth that are straight and normally spaced. If you’ve ever wished your smile was straighter, you may consider orthodontic treatment to solve the issue. However, if you’re happy with your smile as it is, you can instead take extra care to keep your teeth clean by brushing more often, using an electric toothbrush and water flosser, and getting professional cleanings as recommended.

4. Damaged Dental Restorations

Over time, dental restorations and oral appliances may wear down, become damaged, or no longer fit. A dental crown may experience a failure, causing plaque and decay to develop between the gumline and the edge of the crown. Partial dentures may also become ill-fitting over time, causing them to rub and irritate the gums. Be aware of how your mouth feels, and if anything feels sore or abnormal, book an evaluation—even if it’s between your usual six-month visits.

5. Dry Mouth From Medications

Xerostomia is the medical term for a common oral issue: dry mouth. Dry mouth can be a side effect of medications or lifestyle factors. When saliva production is too low, your mouth not only feels dry and sticky, but your teeth accumulate plaque more quickly. If you have dry mouth, let your dentist know so they can help you manage the symptoms while working toward a permanent solution.

6. Genetic Predisposition

If your family seems to have trouble with gum disease, you may be at risk of developing it too. Although there is some debate over periodontal disease being hereditary, most dentists will agree that there does seem to be some level of connection. You should let your dentist know if you have a family history of gum disease so you can work together to prevent it from happening to your smile.

7. Nutritional Deficiencies

An unhealthy diet always leads to an unhealthy mouth. If you enjoy indulging your sweet tooth often, eat a lot of starches and simple carbohydrates, and don’t take vitamins, you may be more likely to develop gum disease. Be aware of your sugar intake and limit it as much as possible. You should also start taking a doctor-approved multivitamin and drink plenty of water if you don’t already have these habits established.

8. Lifestyle Risks

Tobacco use, vaping, excessive alcohol consumption, and similar habits are all detrimental to your oral health. Not only can they cause gum disease, but in the case of tobacco use, they can also lead to oral cancer. Strongly consider giving up these habits, and during your journey, pay special attention to doing the most to protect your smile.

Partner with your dentist to stop gum disease.

When it comes to fighting periodontal disease before it has a chance to begin, you need an experienced dentist by your side!

Dr. Farless, Dr. Locklear, and their team provide an exceptional level of dental care to individuals and families in Greensboro, North Carolina. With a strong focus on preventive care, Dr. Farless and Dr. Locklear will always be alert to any signs of gingivitis or gum disease, no matter how subtle. In fact, many patients who come in for a routine exam are surprised to find they have gingivitis, even though they had not yet noticed symptoms. The good news is, the sooner early signs of gum disease are spotted, the sooner treatment can begin! If you suspect your gums aren’t happy or if you’re due for a six-month checkup, call our office to schedule a visit, or book one online.