Causes of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an epidemic around the world and in the U.S., so it makes sense that there are numerous causes of the condition. Primarily, poor oral hygiene is responsible for the development and progression of periodontal disease, as it is both treatable and manageable under the care of a dentist trained in periodontal care.

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that accumulate on the teeth, forming a sticky film known as plaque. With proper daily brushing and flossing habits, this film is washed away, preventing bacteria from proliferating around the gum tissues. Twice-yearly professional teeth cleanings can help eliminate built-up plaque and tarter in places missed by a tooth brush, preventing periodontal disease.

However, missing any area of the tooth – especially those in between teeth and near the surface of the gums – can lead to a hardening of the plaque on the teeth. Overtime, bacteria grow in these areas, not only decaying teeth but causing damage to the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. Failing to maintain regular professional cleaning appointments will allow the disease to further progress, eventually leading to inflammation, bone deterioration and tooth loss.

prevention of gum disease

Other Risk Factors

In addition to poor oral hygiene and an existing diagnosis of gingivitis, there are many other factors that can contribute to a person’s risk of developing periodontal disease. Some are fixed and predetermined, while others are highly variable depending on lifestyle choices and habits.

Genetic Predisposition – Individuals with a family history or gingivitis or periodontitis may be genetically more susceptible to developing periodontal disease themselves. Regular exams can help identify periodontal disease during its earliest stages, allowing for prompt intervention.

Age – The highest number concentration of periodontal disease occurs in adults over age 65. Although being 65 or older puts a person at an increased risk of developing the disease, periodontal disease can occur in any person at any age.

Systemic Diseases – Some diseases can increase chances of developing oral health problems, such as periodontal disease. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease, for example, may cause minor periodontal disease to progress more rapidly, leading to faster gum, bone and tooth loss.

Poor Nutrition – Nutrition is an important factor in overall health, and it can also indirectly prevent or cause periodontal disease. Good nutrition and a healthy diet can prevent obesity and certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. On the other hand, a poor diet high in fat and sugar can accelerate gum disease and may also contribute to the development of systemic disease within the body.

Bruxism – A person suffering from bruxism has a tendency to clench or grind his or her teeth at night. Bruxism is very hard on the jaw, teeth and enamel, and it can also cause an accelerated deterioration of the soft tissues within the mouth.

Medications – Some medications are known to cause oral side effects. Birth control pills and anti-depressants are just some examples of the types of medications that can raise a person’s risk factor for gum disease.

Smoking and Tobacco Usage – Aside from poor brushing and flossing habits, tobacco usage is the leading cause of periodontal disease. Smoking and tobacco usage is known to cause periodontal disease to develop and progress more rapidly than it otherwise would.

Lifestyle Factors – Other lifestyle factors can also lead to the development or progression of periodontal disease. Frequent stress, for example, can affect the body’s immune response and prevent the body from fighting off infections – including periodontal disease.

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