What Causes Gum Disease?

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Gum disease (also referred to as “periodontitis”) occurs when bacteria accumulate on the surface of your teeth. It can cause inflammation in your gums and cause harm to your mouth. Gingivitis is the first phase of gum disease. Gingivitis is relatively common, as nearly half of all adults experience it. However, with proper care, it is generally something that can be reversed. If gingivitis is left untreated, pockets between the tooth and gum can form and fill up with harmful bacteria. At this stage, the gingivitis has transformed into periodontitis. It becomes almost impossible to eliminate the bacteria in your mouth after this has occurred. However, regular dental treatments can control the growth of the pockets. Let’s look at what causes gum disease.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

Below you will find the most common risk factors related to gum disease.


Plaque is the thick film of bacteria on your gums and teeth. A healthy oral care routine and going to the dentist regularly can help manage your plaque. However, if buildup is left untreated, it can cause issues, including gum disease.


Chewing tobacco and smoking can interfere with the regular function of the cells in your gum tissue. This can make your mouth more vulnerable to infection due to harmful bacteria. Quitting smoking has benefits for both your oral and overall health.

Family History:

A family history that includes gum disease can put you slightly more at risk. Inform your dentist, so they are aware of your heightened risk.

Nutritional Deficiencies:

A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water and vitamin C can place you at a higher risk for gum disease. Be sure to take your vitamins and drink at least eight glasses of water each day.

Prescription Medications:

Dry mouth is a side effect of several medications. Dry mouth is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. Stay hydrated, but if the problem persists, contact your doctor and see what your options are.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A dentist can examine your teeth to see if you have gum disease. Your gums will be probed with a small ruler to check for inflammation and the size of any pockets around your teeth. The dentist may also order X-rays to check for any bone loss. You may have a mild case that can be treated by a dentist. However, if you have a severe case, you will likely be referred to a periodontist. A periodontist specializes in the treatment of gum disease.

Depending on the severity of your gum disease, there are several treatment options, including:

  • Deep cleaning your teeth
  • Medication
  • Sometimes surgery

The dentist will be able to recommend the best option for you based on the severity of the condition of your teeth and gums.

Prevention Measures

A good oral care routine is integral to combatting gum disease. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Be sure to brush at night after you have eaten and only drink water after. Floss at least once a day, preferably at night. Leaving leftover food to fester all night is a breeding ground for bacteria. Use mouthwash with fluoride at least once a day. Lastly, attend your regularly scheduled dental appointments every six months (or more if recommended by your dentist).

Dentists in Encino, California

Dr. Marian Yassa from Encino Family Dental is a highly educated and experienced dentist. She has worked with numerous patients with a wide variety of dental issues, including gum disease. Dr. Yassa and her team at Encino Family Dental are eager to help with any of your dental issues, so contact the office for an appointment today!

Now you know what causes gum disease, and are one step closer to maintaining good oral health.

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