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The Most Common Causes of Gum Problems (and 7 Potential Others)

#1 Plaque 

Gum problems are most commonly caused by plaque—a thick film of germs that form on gums and teeth. Daily brushing, flossing and rinsing removes this film.

The good news: early gum problems are reversible—so it may be time to pick up some new healthy habits. Dental checkups at least once every 6 months are also key.

#2 Smoking 

Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your mouth more vulnerable to infections. It also makes your mouth smell bad.

#3 Hormonal Shifts

During pregnancy or on your menstrual cycle, hormones can rise and fall, making gums more susceptible to gum problems. Expecting a baby does not mean you automatically have problems with your gums or teeth. It just means you’ll want to take extra-special care of your mouth during this time to maintain your oral health. Some of the unusual things you can expect to possibly happen during your pregnancy are inflamed gums that are irritated, puffy and red, and bleed a little when brushed or flossed (if you experience these symptoms, know that they typically disappear after pregnancy).

#4 Prescription Meds

Medications may have a side-effect of dampening saliva production and flow, leaving a dry mouth where germs can more readily spread. If you’re concerned about the status of your gums, discuss any medications you are on, with your doctor.

#5 Nutritional Deficiencies

It is hard work to get all your daily vitamins, but when you’re not getting enough vitamin C, this could be especially harmful to your gums. A diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates and low in water and vitamin C is a recipe for gum problems. 

#6 Crooked Teeth

If you have the common situation where your teeth overlap, are crooked or rotate, it can create a breeding ground for gum problems. That's because misalignments create more spaces where plaque can build up and harm your teeth and gums. (Tip: So take extra care brushing and flossing in those areas.)

#7 Family History

Gum problems like Periodontitis can be genetic. If there has been a history of gum problems in your family, this is something to mention to your dentist, as it may put you at a slightly increased risk for developing the germ infection.