Dee Nishimine, D.D.S., Inc.
Sophia Y. Tseng, D.M.D.
Periodontics & Dental Implants
Call: (559)229-6557

Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease, which is also known as Periodontal Disease (PD) and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss.  Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth.  The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in Bacterial Plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums.  If treated promptly by Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.  However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, Periodontal Disease (PD) begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone; promoting tooth loss.  In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.  This can contribute to systemic diseases.

Common Causes of Gum and Periodontal Disease (PD)

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include periodontal probings, cleanings (SPT's), and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.  The complete and thorough removal of Bacterial Plaque daily is the key to success.
  • Tobacco Use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of Periodontal Disease (PD).  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue and significant bone loss.
  • Genetic Predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop Periodontal Disease (PD) than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep your natural teeth.
  • Pregnancy and Menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.  Pregnancy Gingivitis can be prevented and should be treated by Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng.   Post menopausal females may also have concerns that we can address.
  • Chronic Stress and Poor Diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.  We want you to take care of your entire body and well being.
  • Diabetes and Underlying Medical Issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of Periodontal Disease (PD) including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.  We may rule you out for diabetes utilizing Hb-A-1-c testing.  This is a Glycosalated Hemoglobin test and we want the value to be less than 6.

  • Grinding Teeth- Bruxism – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  We will evaluate your occlusion very carefully and may suggest orthodontic therapy as well for your overall health and aesthetics.  A bad bite may predispose you to headaches and correcting your occlusion may alleviate headaches.  
  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums; making them more susceptible to gum disease.  Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.  If you are on oral contraceptives and if you are prescribed antibiotics the oral contraceptive is not effective and pregnancy may occur.
  • Osteoporosis and Jaw Necrosis- patients on bisphosphonates e.g. fosamax, boniva, actonel or similar bisphosphonates should be very carefully monitored.  Jaw Necrosis is a complications associated with bisphosphonates.  Again prevention and good OHI are critical.  If you are being treated by an oncologist with this class of medications your periodontal health should be excellent prior to commencing these medications.  

Treatment of Periodontal Disease (PD)

Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng  specialize in the treatment of Periodontal Disease (PD) and the placement of dental implants.  They may perform thorough cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing(SRP), and also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.

In the case of tooth loss, Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng are able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing.  Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng will recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing smile.

Preventing Periodontal Disease (PD) is critical in preserving the natural dentition.  Addressing the causes of periodontal  disease and discussing them with Drs. Dennis Nishimine, Dee Nishimine & Sophia Tseng will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of Periodontal Disease (PD)  We want to prevent tooth loss for you and enhance your smile.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask our Periodontal Implant Team.