Causes of gum disease

It's possible to help yourself to fight of gum disease from occurring. We cannot stress the importance of taking care of your oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly, as well as having frequent check-ups with your dentist. Also, think about your diet as poor nutrition can wreak havoc.

Effectively, the main cause of gum disease is bacterial plaque. However, there are a number of other contributing factors to gum disease which we will now assess.


As we are all aware, smoking is not good for our health, contributing to lung and heart disease. Did you know it's terrible for our oral hygiene? It's responsible for building up plaque on the teeth - which can lead to gum disease. It can also restrict the flow of blood to our gums. What's more, smoking can also cause your teeth to become stained. So, if you're worried about oral hygiene and are a smoker, you may want to consider the implications.


When you're stressed your body finds it harder to fight off infections and gum disease can be a by-product of this. Stress can also sometimes lead on to another contributory factor to gum disease - teeth clenching. Some people, when stressed, will clench their teeth - or they may simple be unaware they are doing it while sleeping at night. Again, the grinding can have severe implications on the state of your gums.


Diabetes causes altered levels of sugar in the blood and develops from either a deficiency in insulin production or the body's inability to use insulin correctly. People with diabetes can be at higher risk of developing infections, including gum disease.

Hormonal changes

When females are going through puberty, pregnancy or the menopause the hormonal changes can affect tissues in the body - including the gums. As such, this can make the gums more susceptible to bleeding. Care should be taking when brushing and flossing.


According to research, up to 30 per cent of people may be susceptible to gum disease through their genetics. A genetic test can be used to help ascertain the chances of any future problems and allow the dentist to carefully monitor the situation.


Some medication can have an impact on our oral hygiene - for example, oral contraceptives, anti-depressant and particular heart medicines. These might lead to the decolourisation of gums or weaken tissues, making them more susceptible to gum disease. Be sure to take into account any possible side-effects.


We've saved perhaps the most obvious point for last. However, it pays to have a good diet and to ensure you aren't overloading your mouth with sugary and fizzy foods and drinks, which can lead to an influx of bacteria plaque. This, in turn, can lead to gum disease. Take care of your diet, take care of your teeth!

Ask an Expert