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Gum Disease 101

Woman experiencing tooth pain

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, is a very common condition among adults. However, you may be wondering, “What is it?”, “What are the causes?”, and “Is it preventable?”. In recognition of February’s Gum Disease Awareness Month, we’ll help you brush up on your knowledge of risk factors, symptoms, and prevention so you can take action to protect your smile for years to come!


What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums that damages, and in some cases destroys, the bone and soft tissue surrounding your teeth. Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and food particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless film known as plaque.

When plaque isn’t removed by brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits, it begins to harden and form tartar. Only dental professionals can remove tartar.

The disease can range from a mild stage, called gingivitis, to a more severe stage called periodontitis. As gum disease progresses, gums pull away from teeth, creating pockets. Over time, these pockets can become deeper, and as they fill with bacteria and toxins, gum tissue and bone are eroded.


What Causes Gum Disease?

In most cases, plaque buildup due to poor oral hygiene is the primary culprit. However, there are several other causes and factors you might not know about, including:

  • Hormonal shifts for females, such as during pregnancy or during monthly menstrual cycles
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Prescription medications
  • Family history
  • Crooked teeth


Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Be sure to talk with your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Receding gumlines or teeth appear longer
  • Pain when chewing
  • Constant bad breath or bad tastes in your mouth
  • Loose or separating permanent teeth
  • Changes to your bite
  • Poor-fitting dentures


Gum Disease Prevention

Here are a few ways to prevent gum disease:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste to ensure your tooth enamel stays strong
  • Floss once daily
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet that’s high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber and low in sugars and carbs
  • Avoid all forms of tobacco and limit alcohol consumption
  • Drink more water throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep teeth clean between meals
  • Chew sugar-free gum or sugar-free candies to protect against dry mouth
  • Visit the dentist regularly to prevent or catch oral issues early


If you are experiencing any of the possible warning signs of gum disease mentioned above, be sure to express your concerns during your next preventive check-up. You can also use our “Find a Provider” search tool to find a network dentist. TruAssure’s Max Savings, Choice, and Choice Plus plans for individuals and families offer three cleanings per year, giving you more opportunities to have your dentist screen you for gum disease and practice preventive dental care.

Categories: Individuals, Members

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