Causes of Periodontal (Gum) Disease
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. Bacterial plaque isn’t the only cause, though. Other factors, like the following, can also affect the health of your gums.
Tobacco use is linked to a range of serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that tobacco users also have an increased risk of developing periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in developing a serious case of periodontal disease.
Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, those with a genetic predisposition may be six times more likely to develop a problem. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Pregnancy and Puberty
As a woman, you know that your health needs are unique. Daily brushing and flossing daily, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are all important to help you stay in shape. You also know that you need to take extra care of yourself at specific times in your life. Times when you mature and change—for example, puberty or menopause—and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy. During these particular times, your body experiences hormonal changes that can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. They can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations, making you more susceptible to gum disease. Recent studies also suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to experience preterm delivery or have babies with a low birth weight.
Stress is linked to many serious conditions, including hypertension and cancer. What you may not know is that it is also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including an infection caused by periodontal disease.
Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.
Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
Do you grind your teeth at night? Do you clench your teeth when you’re taking a test or solving a problem at work? Clenching or grinding can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
Diabetes is a disease that affects a patient’s blood sugar levels. It develops from either a deficiency in the production of insulin (a hormone that is the key component in the body's ability to use blood sugars) or the body's inability to use insulin correctly. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes. However, more than half have not been diagnosed. If you are diabetic, you have a higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which can make it more difficult for you to control your condition. It can also cause your infection to be more severe than it would be in a non-diabetic.
A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body's immune system and make it harder for the body to ward off infection. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Other Systemic Diseases
Diseases that interfere with the body's immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.