Gingivitis Causes and Risk Factors
Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the gums. The exact reason why gingivitis develops has not been proven, but several theories exist.
- For gingivitis to develop, plaque must accumulate in the areas between the teeth. This plaque contains large numbers of bacteria thought to be responsible for gingivitis. But it is not simply plaque that causes gingivitis. Almost everyone has plaque on their teeth, but gingivitis is far less common.
- In certain instances, an individual may have an underlying illness or condition that renders their immune system susceptible to gingivitis. For example, people with diabetes and other immune system diseases (such as HIV) have a weaker ability to fight bacteria invading the gums. People who smoke or have a substance-abuse problem are also predisposed to develop gingivitis.
- Sometimes hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy, puberty, and steroid therapy leave the gums vulnerable to bacterial infection.
- Local factors, such as crowded teeth and poor fitting or altered tooth anatomy due to dental work increase an individual's susceptibility to gingivitis.
- A number of medications used for seizures, high blood pressure, and organ transplants have been shown to cause an enlargement of the gingiva.
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