Factors that cause periodontal disease

Ever wondered what causes gum disease? This article gives an insight into common factors.

ST. ALBANS, UK August 21, 2012 - People from all over the world experience some form of dental problem. Taking good care of your teeth can help you ward off dental problems. 


To understand what periodontal disease is, you need to first understand what the periodontal tissues are. The tissues which surround and support our teeth are periodontal tissue. There are four types of tissues which make up periodontal tissue. They are as follows:

  • Cementum
  • Alveolar bone
  • Periodontal ligament
  • Gingivia (gums)

When a person suffers from periodontal disease, it means that one or more of the periodontal tissues’ has been affected with disease.

The problem of periodontitis begins with plaque. It is a sticky and visible film which forms a layer on your teeth from the starches and sugars which are present in food interacting with the bacteria in your mouth. It is seen as the yellow soft deposit on teeth that is normally easily removed by good and effective brushing.

Even though you brush your teeth to remove plaque, it has the tendency to reform itself. This takes place within 24 hours. A plaque which happens to stay on or within your teeth for two or more days can cause a serious damage. This plaque can become firm along and under your gum line. This converts itself into tartar (also known as scale or calculus). Tartar is that hard chalky substance that forms around your teeth. With time it becomes difficult to remove by brushing. It also acts as the live reservoir for your mouth bacteria.

No matter how you brush and floss and no matter how expensive the tooth cleaning products you buy, you might not be able to get rid of all the accumulated tartar on your own. You will need to opt for professional cleaning like that from a dentist or hygienist if this is the case. 

As clarified above the more time you allow the plaque or tartar to stay on teeth, the more you invite them to complicate your case.



It begins with slight irritation around your gums. You may soon experience inflammation around your gingiva, which is the gum that supports your teeth. Ginigivitis is the inflammation of the gums. It can be painful and present with swelling and bleeding (if you are a non-smoker).


Continuous inflammation leads to the development of pockets between your teeth and gums. These pockets soon fill up with bacteria, plaque, tartar and food. The longer you leave it untreated, the deeper the pocket becomes. This will allow accumulation of more and more bacteria. The pockets advance to damage the tissues which are under your gums. Once the tissues under your gum are damaged the condition becomes infectious. This may result in either the loss of your tissue or your bone. This means you have the chance of losing one or more teeth.

It is safe to say that the entire cycle of accumulation of plaque, conversion into tartar, leads to periodontal disease. But there are other aspects to this problem as well. Here is a brief look at the contributors to periodontal disease.

Contributors to periodontal disease:


Tobacco, either in the form of chewing tobacco or smoking, is the most well known contributor to periodontal disease. With the constant use of tobacco you allow your immune system to grow weak day by day. It also sets up an environment that is conducive for harmful bacteria to generate and multiply.

Your mouth has an inbuilt mechanism to fight and limit the growth of bacteria in your mouth. But with the consumption of tobacco you allow it to interfere in the natural process to fight back the bacteria. So even if you get treatment for periodontal disease, you will not be able to respond well.


If you take tablets for colds or coughs or any other in general on a regular basis then you have landed yourself in a little trouble. Your bacterial levels will be affected. Continuous consumption of tablets can lead to over growth of your gum tissues. This makes it difficult to remove tartar or plaque and later results in periodontal disease. Some prescribed medicines can also have a negative on the health of your gums causing gum inflammation or a dry mouth.


There are numerous health complications which can result in periodontal diseases. They take a serious toll on the gums and lead to many complications. Diabetes is one of them. Diabetics are naturally vulnerable to infections. If you are diabetic and have periodontal disease then it will affect your body’s ability to heal. People who suffer with heart problems also have been found to suffer with periodontal disease.

Any individual who has an imbalanced diet or are malnourished are susceptible to this disease. Usually it is the lack of following things which results in nutritional deficiency:

  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium

Calcium is the main source which allows strength not only to the teeth but also to bones.

No matter how much extra care you take of your teeth. It is wise to plan your dental check-ups regularly.

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Dr. Priya Patel

I’m Dr. Priya Patel with over 10 years of experience in the dental industry and dental principal of Village Dental Practice in Stevenage, UK.  I qualified from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Dental Hospital in 2002 from London. I involve patients in their own treatment and enjoy seeing the improvement in a patient as their treatment progresses.

I also teach dentists at the Royal College of Surgeons in London who are completing postgraduate studies as well as overseas dentists who are studying for their equivalency exams.

You can follow Dr. Patel on Twitter at @dentistmum

Contact Dr. Priya Patel


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