What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease or “gum disease,” is a condition within the mouth in which your gums are affected by plaque and bacteria. Bacteria live inside of our mouth. This bacteria needs to be constantly removed, along with extra food particles and mucus, in order to keep plaque from building on our teeth.
Plaque itself, however, is not the actual cause of periodontal disease. This plaque, when not properly removed with brushing or by dental cleanings, can lead to the formation of tartar (also known as calculus) when it hardens. If this tartar is not removed, it can cause bacteria to grow and cause gum inflammation.
Gum inflammation, or gingivitis, is the start of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is when the gums are reddened and swollen due to bacterial inflammation. In many cases, it will cause them to bleed easily when brushing your teeth or flossing. This inflammation, while mildly aggravating, can be reversed with proper dental care.
However, if you experience gingivitis and still do not take the proper steps to care for your gums and teeth, it will progress into periodontitis, which is a more serious form of periodontal disease. This is when it becomes serious enough for your gums to “pull away” from your teeth and cause spaces and pockets for bacteria to continue to grow and infect the gums. This will eventually break down the gums and bone and will cause your teeth to eventually fall out or become infected enough to lose their grip in the bone.
Other risk factors that can be associated with periodontal disease include those who smoke or take certain over-the-counter medications that can make you more vulnerable to gingivitis and periodontitis. Hormonal changes in women and teenage girls can cause gum sensitivity, and those with diabetes, illnesses, and certain genetic susceptibility may find they are at a greater risk of developing periodontal disease as well. But with proper dental hygiene, you can reduce your risk greatly.Back to Dental Library Page