What to Know About Periodontal Disease

An estimated 15 percent of Americans have a fear of the dentist and skip their regular check-ups. While maintaining proper oral hygiene at home is important to keep your teeth healthy, annual or bi-annual appointments with the dentist are crucial for oral health. Regular cleanings can help prevent diseases such as periodontal (gum) disease.

What is periodontal disease?

looking at a dental x-ray

The human mouth is full of bacteria. That bacteria can settle on teeth and form a sticky, colorless plaque. While brushing and flossing can help remove plaque, any plaque left behind can harden and leave behind a tartar on the teeth. This can only be removed with a professional cleaning.

The longer the plaque and tartar sit on the teeth, the more damage they can do. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. The gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. It can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and a regular professional cleaning.

If gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontal disease, or periodontitis. In periodontitis, the bacteria on your teeth spreads below the gum line. The buildup of plaque and bacteria causes the gums to inflame and pull away from the teeth. This forms a pocket between the tooth and the gum, allowing for even more plaque to build up.

In extreme cases that are left untreated, periodontitis can destroy the gums and bones surrounding the teeth, which can lead to tooth loss.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs that you could have gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Perpetual bad breath
  • Receding gums

If you have concerns about your gums or oral health, consult your dentist.

TruAssure VBA dental plans are administered and underwritten by TruAssure and are offered in association with the DenteMax Plus dental network arrangement, which includes participating dentists from the United Concordia, DenteMax and Connection dental networks in all states but North Carolina, where the DenteMax Plus network arrangement includes DenteMax and Connection dental networks.

The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.