What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar that build up at the gum line. When bacteria are allowed to remain in the mouth, they can form plaque, which causes tooth decay. Once plaque builds up on your teeth, it will harden into tartar, which is difficult to remove.

Bacteria cause inflammation in the mouth and can cause loss of gum tissue. Over time, the gum tissues will begin to pull away from the teeth, causing pockets to form in the gum tissue. Pockets can become deeper and trap more bacteria, leading to more tartar buildup. Bacteria can also enter the bloodstream through open gum pockets, which can lead to other systemic health issues.

If you are experiencing signs of gum disease, you should call our office today.

In addition to poor oral hygiene, there are several possible causes of gum disease. These include:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque will accumulate and harden into tartar. Plaque and tartar buildup is the most common cause of gum disease.

It’s also important to regularly visit your dentist for checkups. During the checkup, your dentist can examine your mouth for signs of gum disease. A dentist can also clean your teeth to prevent plaque and tartar buildup.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is among the most common risk factors for gum disease. Besides being responsible for oral cancer, tobacco use can disrupt the blood supply to the gums, causing inflammation and susceptibility to disease.

The buildup of tartar and plaque can lead to the development of gingivitis, which can progress to periodontitis. Tobacco use is also associated with the development of halitosis or bad breath.


Genetics can play a huge role in whether or not you develop gum disease. It’s estimated that 30% to 60% of gum disease risk can be passed down from your parents. This means if your parents had gum disease, you might be at a higher risk.

However, genes alone aren’t the only factor. Your oral health can also play a role in whether or not you develop gum disease. If you practice healthy oral hygiene habits, your genes likely won’t cause you to develop gum disease.

Hormonal Imbalance

There are many hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, puberty, perimenopause, and menopause. These changes affect a woman’s oral health. For example, hormonal changes can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar, which has been linked to gingivitis.


Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot regulate glucose properly. This can cause several problems in the body, and one of them is gum disease. People with diabetes have a higher chance of developing gum disease because the disease can cause dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and oral infections.


Some medications can cause gum disease. Medications that suppress the immune system, like certain steroid drugs, increase the risk of oral fungal infections, such as thrush.

Drugs that suppress the immune system can also increase the risk of gum (periodontal) disease. Many common medications for allergies or asthma, such as antihistamines, can cause dry mouth, which in turn increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Other medications, such as some seizure drugs, can cause abnormal gum tissue overgrowth.

At Mountain Stream Dental, Dr. Gerald L. Torgeson and the team give importance to the dental care of all patients. Call us at (541) 345-5363 to schedule a consultation.


498 Harlow Rd #2, Springfield, OR 97477

Phone: (541) 345-5363

Office Hours

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FRI - SUN Closed

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Call or Text Us: (541) 345-5363