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What causes Periodontal Disease?

Updated on November 5, 2019
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Makie is a dental assistant and obtained her certificate at Wor-Wic Community College.


Felicita a former smoker from Florida developed gum disease and lost 23 teeth in one surgery by age 50. Brett also developed periodontitis and lost 16 teeth by the age of 42. These are perfect examples of the consequences of periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. There are many symptoms of periodontitis which include: swollen or puffy gums, receding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, painful chewing and the way your teeth fit together when you bite. The American Academy of Periodontology states, “According to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. This equals approximately 64.7 million Americans”. Many cases of periodontitis are due to a lack of vitamin C, hormonal changes in pregnant women and continuous usage of smoking tobacco.

There are many reasons why a vitamin C deficiency may cause periodontitis. According to Tada et al, “There is significant evidence linking periodontal disease and vitamin C” (1). Therefore, to avoid any future complications we must consume vitamin C in our diets. Many foods in the food chain contain vitamin C, such as kale, kiwis, broccoli, lemons, papayas, strawberries, and oranges. By adding this important vitamin in our day to day lives we are assured that it may decrease our chances of having periodontal diseases. On the other hand, there are also symptoms that accompany a vitamin C deficiency. Focus for Health states “Severe vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include bruising, bleeding under the skin, poor wound healing, hair loss, tooth loss, swelling, joint pain, nosebleeds, anemia, and eventually death, if the deficiency is not corrected. Today, scurvy is rare because it takes such a small amount of vitamin C to prevent it. However, it is still present in some undernourished parts of the world” (1). In other words, Focus for Health argues that a vitamin C deficiency can cause many internal and external changes to our bodies which if left untreated can lead to life threatening situations. As claimed by Delta Dental” Vitamin C strengthen your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening” (1). This shows how one simple vitamin is important to the human bodiy because it prevents it from dental diseases. In the long run, vitamin C should be incorporated in our day to day lives whether in food form or supplements and to treat a vitamin C deficiency as soon as possible if not it can lead to serious dental issues.

In addition to a vitamin C deficiency, hormonal changes in pregnant women can also result in periodontal disease. Rahman et al states “Changes in the physiological process during pregnancy can alter the inflammatory response by intensifying the gingival inflammation” (1). So, to obviate any more complications expecting women should see their dentists in order to get checked for any periodontal issues with their gums. Cleveland Clinic states “Hormone levels change considerably during pregnancy. An increased level of progesterone in particular can increase your susceptibility to bacterial plaque causing gingivitis which is most noticeable during the second to eighth month of pregnancy. This condition is called pregnancy gingivitis where the gums become swollen and bleed easily” (1). The basis of Cleveland Clinic’s argument is that due to the increased hormones in pregnant women’s bodies they have higher chances of developing gingivitis as known as periodontal disease. Overall, hormonal changes effect women during their early pregnancy stages but need to seek their dentist as soon as they found out they’re expecting.

Furthermore, smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco can also result in having serious periodontal disease. As claimed by Harthi “studies showed negative influences from smoking on the results of treatment, and also that if smoking was not controlled, it negatively impacted long-term prognosis”. In arguing this claim, Harthi argues that there are negative influences to smoking that could have unfavorable medical diagnosis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system). This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal” (1). What the CDC really means is that smoking attacks your antibodies which are essential to your body to suppress any infection and that it could make it extremely hard for one’ body to recover from having a gum infection. Given these points, smoking can be damaging to the human body for quite a while and it can make its immune system uncapable to fight and recuperate from an infection.

Teeth are alive, and given the proper environment, they can regenerate; this is why internal factors that nourish the teeth are so important (Nadine Artemis). Consequently, the best way to fight periodontitis is to implement healthy vitamins in our diets, have regular check-ups with your dentist especially for pregnant women, and reduce one’s smoking to zero. It is important to be aware of the symptoms and the causes of gum disease so that they can be prevented in the future. Perhaps people will think before making unhealthy life choices that can ruin their life permanently.

Works Cited

” 7 vitamins & minerals your mouth needs.” Delta Dental. April 2016.

AL Harthi, Shatha Subhi Y. “Association Between Smoking and Periodontitis in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2012.” ProQuest, Accessed 7 October 2019.

“Hormones and Oral Health.” Cleveland Clinic.

“Periodontal Disease Fact Sheet.” American Academy of Periodontology.

Rahman, Ghousia; Asa’ad, Farah; Basser, Mohammad. “Periodontal health awareness among gynecologists in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.” Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, v5, issue. 3, Mumbai, May-Jun2015. ProQuest, .Accessed 7 October 2019.

“Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tada, Aiko; Miura, Hiroko. “The relationship between vitamin C and periodontal diseases: A systematic review.” Basel, v1, MDPI AG, June 2019. ProQuest, Accessed 3 October 2019.

“Vitamin C: Not just for Colds.” Focus for Health.


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