Many patients believe that cavities are the most common cause of tooth loss. However, it’s actually gum disease that accounts for the majority of lost teeth in adults over the age of about 35. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all American adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum or tooth disease.

Plaque buildup on your teeth and along the gum line is the leading cause of gum disease. When plaque isn’t removed through brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar. This stubborn substance will damage the gums and eventually cause inflammation in the tissue, which will cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. This is known as periodontitis. Eventually, this will destroy the underlying bone structure as well.

Although there are many factors that contribute to gum disease, they include:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Gum disease is caused most often by poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth, plaque can build up on your teeth and cause gum disease. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria that infect gum tissues and cause inflammation. The gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria and food particles can hide. This can lead to infection and even tooth loss if it is left untreated for too long. If you want to avoid gum disease, make sure you brush your teeth at least twice per day and floss at least once per day.


Although smoking is a well-known risk factor for lung cancer, it has also been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing gum disease and tooth loss. The chemicals in cigarettes coat the gums and prevent the mouth from healing quickly after an oral procedure. Cigarette smoke also compromises your immune system’s ability to fight off bacterial infections in the mouth. Additionally, tobacco products like chewing tobacco can irritate gum tissues because they leave behind a sticky residue that clings to the teeth. This harmful residue increases your risk of gum disease and tooth decay.


There are many factors that can cause gum disease, but some individuals are more prone to it than others. Some of our genes control how our body reacts to bacteria in our mouths—and if your body doesn’t naturally fight off the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, you may be at higher risk for it. However, you can prevent or treat the disease by maintaining good oral health habits.

Hormonal Changes

Women often experience hormonal fluctuations during their lifetime, and these fluctuations can cause several changes in their bodies. One of the most common is an increase in the amount of plaque buildup on your teeth. This hormone change is called “pregnancy gingivitis” because it affects many women during pregnancy. However, it can also affect women who are approaching menopause, as well as women who have just given birth. It’s believed that this increase in estrogen can affect your gums and make them more sensitive, which in turn leads to an increased risk of gum disease.


Drugs used to treat a variety of illnesses and diseases can cause side effects or damage to the teeth and gums. For example, long-term use of steroids like prednisone can weaken the bones and cause teeth to become loose or even fall out. It’s important to tell your dentist about any medications you are taking, so they can determine if there are any risks to your oral health.


Schedule an appointment with Lincolnway Dental Center to learn more about gum disease treatment. Walk into 648 North Randall Road, Aurora, IL 60506. Contact us at (630) 897-1300 or visit our website for more information. 

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