Causes of Periodontal Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on teeth. However, factors like the following also affect the health of your gums.


Research shows that up to 80% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease, and around 10% will experience periodontal disease severe enough to lose teeth during their life-time. Despite excellent oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people before they even show signs of the advancing disease and getting them into early interventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Smoking/Tobacco Use

As you probably already know, tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.


Diabetes is a disease that causes altered levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes develops from either a deficiency in insulin production mainly in children (insulin a hormone that is the key component in the body's ability to use blood sugars) or the body's inability to use insulin correctly that occurs mainly in adults. According to studies, approximately 5% of people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes; however, it is estimated that a further 5% are undiagnosed. If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause your diabetes to be more difficult to control and your infection to be more severe than a non-diabetic.


Suffering from chronic stress is linked to many serious conditions such as high blood pressure, cancer, and numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.

Pregnancy and Puberty

As a woman, you know that your health needs are unique. You know that brushing and flossing daily, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are all important to help you stay in shape. You also know that at specific times in your life, you need to take extra care of yourself. Times when you mature and change, for example, puberty or menopause, and times when you have special health needs, such as menstruation or pregnancy. During these particular times, your body experiences hormonal changes. These changes can affect many of the tissues in your body, including your gums. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease. Additionally, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth at night? Is your jaw sore from clenching your teeth when you're taking a test or solving a problem at work? Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.


Some prescription drugs can affect your oral health and cause gum overgrowth. Just as you notify your pharmacist, and other health care providers, of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.