Gum disease or Periodontal disease is a progressive inflammatory disease of the gingival and the surrounding tissue (bone) around the teeth. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss after the age of 30 and it is believed that around 80% of the population above the age of 30 may suffer from this disease, with varying degrees of severity.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection that can irreversibly damage your teeth if left untreated. The word "periodontal" literally means “around the tooth.” Because periodontal disease is caused by a degenerative bacterium that harms the gums and the supporting bone structure beneath them, it requires treatment in its earliest stages.
Causes of Gum Disease
The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is bacterial plaque, a highly adhesive, clear film that is constantly forming on your teeth. The following causes have also been attributed to gingivitis and the more advanced forms of periodontitis:
- Poor oral hygiene, smoking and tobacco use has been shown to be a major contributor to gum disease. It is no secret that smoking causes a host of health related issues, but recent studies have shown it to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and advancement of periodontal diseases.
- Poor nutrition leads to a multitude of health-related complications, including gum disease. Compromising your immune system with a poor diet will hinder your body’s natural ability to fight off gum disease, and may require you to seek professional periodontal treatment.
- Genetics predispose nearly 30 percent of the population to gum disease. Even with aggressive and consistent oral health care, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than those who are not genetically susceptible to gum disease. It is important to visit an accredited periodontist to determine if you are at a higher risk for periodontal complications in order to begin an early intervention treatment routine.
- Pregnancy and the hormonal changes that accompany it can lead to an increased susceptibility to gum disease. Severe hormonal fluctuations are known to affect a number of tissues in your body, including your gums.
- Medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines can have a negative impact on your overall oral health. It is important you inform your periodontist of the medications you are taking and of any subsequent changes.
- Grinding your teeth places excess force on the supporting tissue of the teeth and can accelerate the rate at which gum disease destroys the sensitive support system of your mouth.
- Diabetes causes fluctuations and alterations in your blood sugar. The perpetual changes lead to a higher risk for developing severe periodontal disease that requires gum surgery.