What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissue. It is an inflammatory disease that has serious consequences for your oral health and overall well-being. While most people know that it can lead to tooth loss, gum disease can also affect your body in other ways.

Gum disease has been linked to numerous health issues, including diabetes, dementia, respiratory illness, heart disease, and stroke. The bacteria that cause gum disease can enter your bloodstream and travel through your body, affecting your health in multiple ways.

Here are some of the factors that can cause gum disease:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Plaque that builds up on the teeth and gums is the main cause of gum disease. When you don’t brush or floss enough, plaque can form and cause problems. Plaque is a sticky biofilm of bacteria, acids, and food remnants. Over time, plaque can irritate the gums, leading to gum disease (gingivitis).

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is a leading cause of gum disease. People who smoke or use tobacco products have double the risk of gum disease compared to non-tobacco users. The acids in tobacco also cause tooth staining and discoloration.

After quitting, your risk of gum disease decreases significantly. In addition, the stains on your teeth will fade. However, tobacco users may require additional whitening treatment.


Unfortunately, genetics plays a role in the severity of gum disease. If your parents have gum disease, you are at a higher risk of developing it yourself.

If your parents are cavity-free, this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t develop gum disease. It just means that you have a lower risk.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during pregnancy, menopause, or taking certain birth control pills, can cause gums to bleed more easily. The condition is called pregnancy gingivitis and usually occurs in the third trimester.

These changes to hormone levels can also increase your risk for gum disease. In fact, pregnancy gingivitis is the leading cause of gingivitis for pregnant women. Diabetes and periodontal disease are also linked, as diabetes can cause gum inflammation.


Medications can cause dry mouth. Medications for high blood pressure, epilepsy, depression, allergies, cancer, or Parkinson’s disease can all cause dry mouth. A dry mouth causes your saliva to be less acidic. The less acidic saliva allows plaque to adhere more easily to your teeth. Medications that reduce saliva production should be taken at bedtime.

Systemic Diseases

Systemic diseases often affect the whole body and can result in inflammation in the mouth. For instance, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV/AIDs can all lead to gum disease.

Clenching and Grinding Your Teeth

Constant clenching and grinding of your teeth can cause tiny cracks to form in the teeth. Bacteria can get into these tiny cracks and grow, and this can lead to an infection.


Gum disease is a common side effect of other medical conditions.

Diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory diseases all contribute to gum disease. A diabetic patient is more likely to develop gum disease because high blood sugar levels slow the flow of blood, which can make it more difficult for your gums to heal from injuries.

Imbalanced Diet

If you consume too many acidic foods, your body will be unable to remove the acids effectively. This may cause plaque buildup, which will eventually lead to gum disease.

To find out more about the dental services offered at Harbor Dental, call (970) 377-2456 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit us at 2726 Illinois Dr. #101, Fort Collins, CO 80525.


2726 Illinois Dr. #101, Fort Collins, CO 80525

Phone: (970) 377-2456

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