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What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an all-too-common problem for people in the US. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about half of all adults over 30 have periodontitis – which is a more advanced stage of gum disease. That’s over 64 million people, and that number doesn’t include those that have some lesser form of gum disease. That may leave you wondering why this oral health issue is so common. As it turns out, there are several possible reasons why people form gum disease, including the following.

  • Poor oral hygiene – Healthy teeth and gums don’t just happen. The vast majority of people have to work on maintaining good oral health each and every day. That includes not only brushing your teeth, but flossing as well. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a buildup of plaque, and that can lead to gum disease.
  • Tobacco use – Whether you smoke it or chew it, tobacco prevents the cells in your gum tissue from functioning normally. And that makes you more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Poor nutrition – Eating a healthy diet isn’t just good for your overall health; it’s vital to your oral health as well. When it comes to your gums, getting enough vitamin C is especially important. That’s why part of maintaining good oral health involves eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. And make sure to incorporate foods that are high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, peppers, and broccoli, for example. Oranges are also excellent sources of vitamin C, but be careful not to overindulge in citrus fruits and fruit juices since the high acidity can weaken tooth enamel.
  • Genetics – The majority of the most common causes of gum disease are within our control, but one is not. It’s unfortunate but true – if you have a family history of gum disease, chances are that you’re more likely to develop it yourself.
  • Medications – Some prescription medicines reduce the amount of saliva you produce inside your mouth. And when your mouth is dry, bacteria can spread more easily. If you believe that your gum health is being compromised due to your prescription medication, talk to your doctor to find out if there are better alternatives.

While there’s no doubt that following a daily oral hygiene routine of brushing at least twice and flossing at least once is necessary in order to enjoy good oral health, some people “up the ante” on their hygiene routine by using a water flosser and an anti-bacterial mouthwash. And, of course, you need to visit your dentist at least twice a year for oral exams and professional cleanings. This combination of preventive steps can help you to avoid the all-too-common problem of gum disease.