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The Most Common Cause Of Gum Disease (And 7 Potential Others)

#1 Plaque

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 checkups at least every 6 months is also key.

#2 Smoking

Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your mouth more vulnerable to infections like gum disease.

#3 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). 

#4 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.

#5 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.

#6 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: So take extra care brushing and flossing in those areas.)

#7 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 slightly increased risk for developing the bacterial gum infection.