What Causes Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

Posted by Wayne H. Mori on Sep 6 2022, 06:41 AM

Gum disease is a serious condition affecting almost half of all adults in the United States. This includes both those with and without dental insurance.

Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. This buildup irritates your gums, causing them to pull away from your teeth, creating pockets in between them. Bacteria can then easily attack your gums and teeth, leading to tooth decay or loss. The condition is preventable with regular dental appointments and daily oral care at home.

There are some factors that can result in gum disease, such as:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque is a sticky film made up of food debris and oral bacteria. When plaque is not removed by proper brushing and flossing, it begins to harden into tartar.

Tartar is very hard to remove. Only a professional cleaning can remove tartar and help prevent gum disease.

Smoking & Tobacco Use

Tobacco use causes a variety of health problems, including heart disease and cancer, as well as gum disease. Tobacco use also stains teeth, causes bad breath, and affects your sense of taste.

People who use tobacco products are also more likely to develop periodontal disease than those who don’t use tobacco.

Genetics and Age

Genetics and age are some of the factors that make you more susceptible to gum disease.

Studies have found that certain genes can make you more prone to gum disease and that gum disease can be passed from parents to their children. 

As you age, the tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place can deteriorate, which can make your gums more prone to infection.

Hormonal Changes

Your hormones affect the health of your gums. If you have an oral infection, such as gum disease, it can cause hormonal changes. You may notice that your gums bleed more when you’re on your period or in menopause. You may also notice that your gums are redder or swollen.


People who suffer from diabetes, cancer, or heart disease may need to take medications that affect their oral and dental health. Medications such as blood thinners and antidepressants can reduce the flow of blood, which can affect the health of your gums and teeth.

Many medications are available both by prescription and over-the-counter. It’s important to speak with your dentist about any medications you take and any side effects you might experience. Your dentist can help you manage your medications and your oral health to ensure the health of your mouth.


Pregnancy hormones contribute to gum disease by softening the ligaments in the gums, which make it easier for bacteria to grow in the pockets between gums and teeth.

As the baby grows, it puts pressure on the mother’s pelvic area, which puts pressure on the abdomen and can cause acid reflux. Acid reflux wears away tooth enamel, exposing sensitive areas of the teeth to further damage.


Untreated gum disease can cause tooth loss, and it can also increase your risk of developing other systemic health problems. We recommend having regular dental cleanings to prevent gum disease. Our hygienists can help remove plaque and tartar buildup from difficult-to-reach spaces, and they’ll also polish your teeth for a brighter, healthier-looking smile.

Visit Wayne H Mori, D.M.D., 700 NE Multnomah St Suite 850, Portland, OR 97232, to know more about gum disease. Contact us at (503) 230-8814 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

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