Swollen, puffy or inflamed gums could be a sign of gum disease, such as gingivitis, or worse, periodontitis. In most cases, plaque is the primary cause; however, there are several other gum infection causes you might not know about.
Here are seven common reasons for gum disease and tips about how to prevent gum infections.
#1 Plaque Buildup
Gum disease is most often caused by plaque – a thick film of bacteria that forms on gums and teeth that daily brushing, flossing and rinsing removes. Not sure if you have gum disease or a gum infection? You’re not alone – millions of adults have some stage of gum disease. The good news is that if caught early, it is reversible. Improving your dental care routine and scheduling dental checkups at least every six months are great steps for helping reduce plaque.
#2 Smoking & Chewing Tobacco
Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your mouth more vulnerable to infections like gum disease. Chewing tobacco isn’t any better. Kick the habit and help prevent a number of health issues, including gum infection.
#3 Hormonal Shifts for Females
When you’re pregnant or during monthly menstrual cycles, hormones rise and fall, making gums more susceptible to gum disease. Expecting a baby does not mean you automatically have problems with your gums or teeth, it just means you’ll want to take extra care of your mouth during this time to maintain your oral health. During pregnancy your gums might become inflamed, irritated, puffy, red or bleed a little when brushing or flossing. If you experience these symptoms, know that they typically disappear after pregnancy, but you should still consult with your dentist and doctor if you have any questions.
#4 Prescription Medications
Some medications might have side effects that reduce saliva production and flow, which can leave you with a dry mouth, encouraging bacteria to spread more readily. If you’re concerned about your gum health, discuss your prescription meds with your doctor.
#5 Nutritional Deficiencies
It's hard work to get all your daily vitamins, but not getting enough vitamin C could be especially harmful to your gums. A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water and vitamin C is a recipe for gum issues. To help prevent gum disease, drink plenty of water and ensure you’re getting a balanced diet that’s rich in vitamin C.
#6 Crooked Teeth
It’s common for teeth to overlap, become crooked or rotate. However, a crowded mouth can be a breeding ground for gum disease, because misalignments create more spaces where plaque can build up and harm your teeth and gums. Take extra care to brush and floss in those areas to help prevent gum infection causes like plaque.
#7 Family History
If there’s a history of gum disease in your family, tell your dentist. It might put you at a slightly increased risk for developing the bacterial infection.
Take Action to Help Prevent Gum Disease
Although some gum disease causes aren’t preventable, not smoking and reducing plaque can make a big difference. Step up your dental care routine. LISTERINE® Antiseptic Mouthwash has the power to kill germs that lead to bad breath, plaque and, you guessed it, gum disease. Plus, it helps reduce 52% more plaque than brushing and flossing alone. See the family of LISTERINE® products to help prevent gum disease and gum infection.