The most common causes of gingivitis are improper oral hygiene and improper technique. When brushing, flossing and rinsing don’t occur daily, leftover bacteria builds and forms a thick film known as plaque, which can lead to yellowing and break down teeth over time.
Some habits are widely known to lead to gum problems (such as not brushing, flossing and rinsing), but there are also surprising, less well-known causes of the bacterial infection in your mouth. Beef up your gum-disease smarts to stop gum infection in its tracks.
The Most Common Cause Of Gum Problems & Gingivitis are:
Gum infection is most commonly caused by plaque—a thick film of bacteria forming on gums and teeth that daily brushing, flossing and rinsing removes. If you fall into this category you’re definitely not alone—there are millions of adults who have some stage of gum disease. The good news: early gum disease is reversible—so it may be time to pick up some new healthy habits. Dental check-ups at least every 6 months is also key.
Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your mouth more vulnerable to infections like gum disease.
- Hormonal Shifts
When you’re pregnant, or sometimes even during typical monthly menstrual cycles, hormones can rise and fall, making gums more susceptible to gum problems. Expecting a baby does not mean you automatically have problems with your gums or teeth. It just means you’ll want to take extra-special care of your mouth during this time to maintain your oral health. Some of the unusual things you can expect to possibly happen during your pregnancy are inflamed gums that are irritated, puffy and red and bleed a little when brushed or flossed (if you experience these symptoms, know that they typically disappear after pregnancy, but you should still consult with your dentist and doctor with any questions you have about how to take care of your gums).
- Prescription Meds
Medications may have a side effect of dampening saliva production and flow, leaving a dry mouth where bacteria can more readily spread. If you’re concerned about the status of your gums, discuss any medications you are on with your doctor.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
It's hard work to get all your daily vitamins, but when you’re not getting enough vitamin C, this could be especially harmful to your gums. A diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water and vitamin C is a recipe for gum problems.
- Crooked Teeth
If you have the common situation where your teeth overlap, are crooked or rotate, this can create a breeding ground for gum infection. That's because misalignments create more spaces where plaque can build up and harm your teeth and gums. (Tip: Take extra care brushing and flossing in those areas.)
- Family History
If there has been a history of gum disease in your family, this is something to mention to your dentist, as it may put you at a slightly increased risk for developing the bacterial gum infection.
Biofilm is a thin, slimy layer of bacteria that adhere to surfaces in the mouth such as the tongue, gums, and teeth. We all have a biofilm, even the most avid brushers, flossers and mouth rinses because the sticky film clings to nearly any surface that is wet (it happens in nature, too: think slippery rocks or the slick hull of a boat).
If you regularly brush, floss and rinse, you can minimize the biofilm. But when brushing, flossing and rinsing habits are lacking, the biofilm can build and develop into dental plaque that you can see with the naked eye (it is typically pale yellow in colour).
The thicker biofilm can irritate gums and spur the body’s inflammatory response. This will make gums appear red and swollen instead of their normal healthy pink and firm state. If left untreated, gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, which is completely reversible when action is swiftly taken, can progress into serious gum disease, called periodontitis, which can infect the bone.