#1 Plaque

Gum problems are most commonly caused by plaque—a thick film of bacteria forming on gums and teeth that daily brushing, flossing and rinsing removes. If you fall into this category you’re definitely not alone—there are millions of adults who have some stage of gum problem. The good news: early gum problem is reversible—so it may be time to pick up some new healthy habits. Dental checkups at least every 6 months is also key.

#2 Smoking

Smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells, making your mouth more vulnerable to developing gum problems due to oral bacteria buildup.

#3 Hormonal Shifts

When you’re pregnant, or sometimes even during typical monthly menstrual cycles, hormones can rise and fall, making gums more susceptible to gum problem. 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 bacteria 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's 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

In situations where the teeth overlap, are crooked or rotate, this may lead to gum problems. That’s because misalignments create more spaces where plaque can build up.

#7 Family History

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 slightly increased risk for developing the bacterial infection.