While poor dental hygiene is a primary cause of gum disease, it's not the only one. There is a whole host of contributing risk factors which cause periodontal disease.
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco -- Smoking interferes with the delivery of oxygen to the gum tissue and makes it easier for bacteria to invade the gums. The sugar and irritants contained in chewing tobacco can cause your gums to pull away from the teeth in the area of your mouth where you place the "chew" thus creating the perfect environment to cause gum disease.
Illness -- Chronic medical conditions, including diabetes and other systemic diseases, impair the body's ability to heal and may ultimately be viewed as contributing causes of gum disease. Conditions that interfere with the body's immune system, such as HIV, Sjogren's Syndrome and cancer may worsen the condition of the gums and cause gum disease.
Genetics -- For many, heredity is destiny when it comes to the causes of gum disease. Research conducted by Medical Science Systems shows that 30 percent of the population may inherit a genetic makeup that is six times more likely to cause gum disease. If you come from a family of denture wearers, it makes good sense to pay extra special attention to your oral hygiene.
Medications -- Various prescription medications, including contraceptives, anti-depressants and heart medicines, can have a significant impact upon the health of your gums. Research indicates that the following drug categories are known to cause gum disease-related symptoms: anticoagulants, fibrinolytic agents, protease inhibitors and calcium channel blockers. Several drugs identified by WebMD, such as the anticonvulsant Dilantin and the anti-angina drugs Procardia and Adalat, may cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
Hormonal Changes -- Normal changes in body chemistry, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause and monthly menstruation, can increase gum sensitivity and indirectly cause gum diseases to develop. On a related note, recent studies from the American Academy of Periodontology show that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver premature, low-birth weight babies.
Crooked Teeth and Poor Dental Work -- Crooked or crowded teeth, ill-fitting bridges and defective fillings offer environments conducive to the development of plaque -- the leading cause of gum disease.
Cancer Chemotherapy or Radiation -- Saliva plays an important role in protecting the mouth from gum disease. Unfortunately, dry mouth is often a side effect of cancer treatment. With less saliva, cleaning and lubricating the gums the likelihood of developing a periodontal disease like gingivitis increases significantly.
Smoking Marijuana -- Research from New Zealand shows that frequent marijuana smokers have three times the risk of developing severe gum disease and a 60 percent greater chance of developing a milder form when compared to nonsmokers.
Poor Nutrition -- Poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of gum disease around the world. Deficiencies of important vitamins and nutrients, vitamin C in particular, have been long linked to ANUG (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis), a particularly severe form of periodontal disease.
Bruxism Teeth Grinding -- Because bruxism puts excessive force on the gums supporting your teeth, it may speed up the rate of destruction gum disease causes.
Stress -- Stress compromises your body's immune system making you more susceptible to the infections that cause gum disease.
Obesity -- Researchers at Boston University found evidence that obesity may interfere with the ability of the immune system to appropriately respond to P. gingivalis infection, one of the key causes of gum disease.
Alcohol Consumption -- A study by State University of New York at Buffalo's School of Dental Medicine suggests that alcohol consumption is associated with increasing the severity of periodontal disease.