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What are the Causes of Gum Disease?

Team Periodontics

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and tissues that surround your teeth. Minor infections in the gum are called gingivitis.  A severe infection called periodontitis is caused by untreated gingivitis and affects the jaw bone as well. The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene allows bacteria to grow in the mouth, leading to infection.  Other causes of gum disease include:


Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. Although practicing excellent dental hygiene helps reduce plaque, it’s important to have a professional cleaning and exam from your dentist twice a year. In addition to polishing your teeth at regular appointments, you will also have plaque and tartar scraped off during your biannual visit. Managing plaque buildup can prevent gum disease.

Tobacco Use

Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are terrible for your teeth and gum health. Likewise, there is a growing body of evidence that vaping is also terrible for your teeth, leading to dry mouth. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to wash away harmful bacteria you are at greater risk of developing gum disease.

Prescription Medications

Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications can contribute to gum disease. It’s important to note that the medicine itself doesn’t cause the infection. Dry mouth, which is a side effect of many prescription and over-the-counter medications. Make sure you notify your dentist of any medication you are currently taking. 

Crowded/Crooked Teeth

People with crowded or crooked teeth may be more likely to develop gum disease, than those with teeth in a straight, even alignment. This is because overlapping or crowded teeth often have tiny crevices that are hard to reach, making them an excellent place for bacteria and plaque to grow. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Early gum disease or minor gum disease may not produce any symptoms immediately. You may notice a bit of tenderness or a pink-tinged toothbrush after you’re done brushing. But as the infection worsens, you’re likely to experience the following symptoms of gum disease. 

  • Swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Discolored gums
  • Tooth pain

If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and loss of jaw bone. 

How To Prevent Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is through practicing excellent oral hygiene. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day. You also need to floss your teeth daily. In addition, be sure to see your dentist every six months for a professional cleaning and examination. Professional cleanings are vital to remove plaque and food debris that accumulates in hard-to-reach places.  

If your dentist notifies you that you have gum disease during an examination, you will likely be scheduled for a follow-up scaling and root planing appointment. This is a nonsurgical procedure used to treat gum disease. Your dentist or dental hygienist will use a specialized instrument to remove plaque and tartar that has accumulated on your teeth beneath the gum. After the plaque and tartar (calculus) have been removed, the roots of the teeth will be smoothed.  This will help the gums to reattach to a clean, healthy, smooth tooth root.

Treatment for Gum Disease in Fleming Island

Doctors Lake Family Dental provides complete pediatric dentistry, family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and restorative dentistry in Fleming Island, FL. Contact us today by calling 904-264-6700 to schedule an appointment. New patients may also reserve an appointment online.