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Home > Dental Conditions > Gum Disease > Gum Disease Symptoms & Causes > Stop the Bleeding and Understanding the Causes of Gum Disease
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Stop The Bleeding: Understanding The Causes Of Gum Disease

Causes of gum disease: Bad habits big players in gum disease causes.

Gum disease causes a wide range of health problems affecting far more than the mouth, teeth and gums. It easily ranks among the most widespread diseases known to medicine. According to eMedicine, as many as nine out of 10 American adults will experience gum disease in some form at least once in their lives.

Not only is gum disease a common condition, it's an incredibly old one. Anthropological evidence shows that as far back as 100,000 years ago, Neanderthals were suffering from the same conditions (i.e., gingivitis, periodontital disease etc.) that still make millions miserable.

The big difference between people today and ancient Neanderthals is that we now understand the causes of gum disease. More important, we also know how to prevent it.

Plaque Causes Gum Disease

Infection related to the build up of plaque in the mouth is the most common clinical cause of gum disease. The condition usually makes its presence known through a variety of hard-to-miss clues. If you notice that your tooth brush regularly turns pink after brushing even though you use a blue gel, chances are something's wrong. Gums bleeding after eating hard foods like heavily crusted bread? That's another sign of a problem. Other common symptoms of gum disease include swollen or dark red gums, persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that's unrelated to food, loose or shifting teeth and receding gums. It's important to see your dentist if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms.

A Major Cause of Gum Disease Is Looking at You in the Mirror

Pervasive as it is, gum disease is a highly preventable condition. In most cases, we bring it upon ourselves. Any dentist will tell you that the easiest way to cause gum disease is by not flossing and brushing your teeth. It's that simple. Poor dental hygiene has been long recognized as the leading cause of gum disease. The most effective measures you can take to avoid the problems gingivitis causes are to brush your teeth for three minutes at least twice a day ... three times is even better. Daily flossing is very important. By following a regular schedule of dental hygiene you prevent the build up of plaque which makes tissue unhealthy and causes gum disease.

There Are Many Contributing Causes of Gum Disease

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.

Untreated Gum Disease Causes Major Health Problems

Bleeding gums and loose teeth are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems gum disease causes. When untreated, the periodontal bacteria responsible for gum disease can enter your blood stream and make its way to your major organs. Research indicates that a strong correlation exists between the spread of gum disease-related infection and the incidence of stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory problems and pre-term low-birth weight babies. Evidence of a link between gum disease and heart disease and heart attacks is particularly compelling. A study conducted by faculty from the University of Michigan, found that men over 60 whose gums bleed around almost every tooth were four and a half times more likely to have coronary heart disease.

Knowing the Causes of Gum Disease Is a Good Start to Great Health

Even more important is brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your dentist before gum disease causes lasting problems.

For help finding a dentist specializing in the treatment for gum disease, search now or call 1-866-970-0441.

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