Common Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontal disease is an infection of the gums–the soft tissue that holds your teeth in place. In its beginning stages, gum disease will look like inflamed gum tissue along with swelling or mild bleeding. For example, you may notice a small amount of bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth.

Now, not all bleeding from the gums means that you have gum disease. It is possible that you simply brushed your teeth too hard. However, you should alert your dentist just in case. Without treatment, gum disease can cause more significant dental issues. 

As the swelling and inflammation grow, your gums may begin to recede, pulling away from your teeth. Not only does this give your smile a “gummy” appearance, but this can also increase your chances of tooth decay. Having your gums recede exposes the root of your teeth, which creates another avenue for bacteria to destroy your teeth. Additionally, the gum tissue is what keeps your teeth secured in your mouth. When it recedes, it increases the likelihood of loose or missing teeth. 

It is best to know its causes to avoid or eliminate gum disease. 

3D render of bleeding gums with plaque buildup gum disease restorative dentistry dentist in Denton Texas

Poor Oral Health

One of the most common causes of gum disease is poor oral health. When you brush and floss your teeth, you remove a harmful bacteria known as “plaque.” Plaque is a sticky, white substance that clings to your teeth. If you are not able to eliminate plaque, it can harden into tartar. Unfortunately, only a dental professional can get rid of plaque with special tools. Therefore, it is essential that you properly brush and floss your teeth. 

It is common for people to brush their teeth, thinking it is adequate for their oral health. However, flossing is just as important. Brushing alone cannot remove plaque from underneath your gumline or between your teeth. Without a proper routine, the bacteria can grow, destroying your soft tissues and teeth. 


Smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the leading factors in developing gum disease. On top of causing bad breath and tooth discoloration, smoking carries one of the highest risk factors for gum disease. This is because of the chemicals found in tobacco. While many of the chemicals are known carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), the ingredients aggravate and inflame the gums. Additionally, smoking increases the production of plaque and decreases your ability to produce saliva. Altogether, smoking creates a perfect storm for gum disease and oral cancer. 


Another cause of gum disease has to do with your hormones. A dramatic influx or change in your hormones can make your gums more sensitive. Unfortunately, this can increase your risk of developing gum disease. For example, people who undergo menopause, pregnancy, or puberty are more likely to have gum disease. The hormones make your gums more sensitive, increasing their reactivity to bacteria.