What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease (also referred to as gum disease) is an infection of the bones and soft tissues that support and surround the teeth. The condition can develop in several different forms. For example, gingivitis is a mild to moderate form of gum disease that impacts only the soft tissues of the teeth and mouth. In more advanced forms of the disease, the bones and supporting structures of the teeth become infected. Left untreated, this infection can eventually lead to tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
A variety of factors can cause gum disease, including plaque buildup and bacteria in the mouth, some prescription medications, smoking, hormonal shifts, uneven teeth, nutritional deficiencies and even genetics. To decrease your risk of developing gum disease, try to avoid some of the things listed above.
However, keep in mind that none of these factors on their own will cause gum disease to develop and spread through your body. As long as you maintain a thorough, rigorous oral hygiene routine, it will be extremely difficult to gain a foothold and spread.
Example: You might be genetically predisposed to plaque buildup, but if you brush and floss twice a day, along with visiting your dentist at prescribed intervals for professional checkups and cleanings, your probability of developing gum disease will be reduced.
If you have uneven teeth, plaque, bacteria, and food debris that accumulates much more easily in the spaces between them, it makes it much more difficult to keep them clean. However, as previously stated, gum disease is unlikely to develop if you are diligent in brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly, as well as visiting your dentist on a regular basis.
The Most Common Cause of Gum Disease
Whether you are experiencing a hormonal shift (perhaps a pregnancy), are a regular smoker, or take a prescription medication, gum disease is ultimately caused by the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
This is actually good news because it means that most of the time gum disease is easily prevented by a good oral hygiene routine. While the above-listed issues can increase the risk of gum disease (and make prevention more difficult), it is ultimately up to you whether it actually develops.
The best way to prevent gum disease is twice-daily brushing and flossing, and regular visits to your dentist for a professional cleaning (for most people, twice a year is should be sufficient).