Causes of Periodontal Disease

Macedon Family Dentistry: Dentist Dr. Lisa Spinello

Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease, which if left untreated may result in tooth loss. Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues, which surround and support the teeth. The cause of this inflammation is due to toxins found in plaque, which cause an ongoing bacterial infection. At its earliest stages, know as gingivitis, it is completely reversible. However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone—promoting tooth loss.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing gum diseases can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

  • Poor dental hygiene: Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet coupled with regular dental visits. However, when bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.

  • Tobacco use: Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease. In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue and significant bone loss.

  • Genetic predisposition: Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may be prone to gum disease. Individuals who have a family history of gum disease are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.

  • Pregnancy and menopause: During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.

  • Chronic stress and poor diet: Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system. Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.

  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues: Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes. Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.

  • Grinding teeth: The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth. Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth. When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.

  • Medication: Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums—making them more susceptible to gum disease. Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.

At Macedon Family Dentistry, we offer dental care you can smile about. If you have questions or concerns about causes of periodontal (gum) disease, or if you are looking for a Macedon dentist, Fairport dentist or Palmyra dentist, please give us call.