Over 40% of U.S. adults age 30 or older with 1 or more teeth have periodontal disease.1 If you’re looking for treatment options or details about the disease, this information could help.

Overview

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a serious infection that affects the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. Without treatment, it can destroy the bone and cause loose teeth or tooth loss.2

Causes

In most cases, periodontal disease begins with a buildup of plaque—a soft, sticky film that coats teeth and contains bacteria. Plaque can cause gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. If plaque isn’t removed by daily brushing and flossing, it can harden and turn into tartar (dental calculus). Once tartar forms, it can only be removed with professional cleaning to stop the development of periodontal disease.3

Symptoms

Healthy gums are firm and pink. Here are some symptoms of periodontal disease:4

  • Red, puffy or swollen gums
  • Gums that feel tender and bleed easily
  • Receding gums
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth

Treatment

The amount and types of treatment can depend on the stage of the gum disease. Nonsurgical treatments are used for less-advanced cases, while surgery may be required when the disease is more advanced.

Nonsurgical periodontal disease treatments5

  • Scaling and root planing—Tartar and bacteria are removed from your teeth and under your gums using instruments, a laser or an ultrasonic device.
  • Antibiotics—Topical antibiotics, such as antibiotic gels or mouth rinses, are used to control bacterial infection.

Surgical periodontal disease treatments6

  • Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery)—Tiny incisions are made in your gums so a section of tissue can be lifted back, exposing the roots for more effective cleaning.
  • Soft tissue grafts—Tissue is removed from the roof of your mouth or taken from a donor source to replace gum tissue that has receded around your teeth.
  • Bone grafting—Fragments of your own bone, synthetic bone or donated bone are used to reattach teeth to the jawbone.

Humana can help with periodontal disease treatment

If you need treatment for periodontal disease, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.

Sources

  1. “July JADA: Periodontitis Remains Prevalent in U.S. Adults,” American Dental Association, last accessed August 19, 2020, https://www.ada.org/en/publications/ada-news/2018-archive/june/july-jada-periodontitis-remains-prevalent-in-us-adults, opens new window.
  2. “Periodontitis: Symptoms & causes,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473, opens new window.
  3. “Periodontitis: Symptoms & causes.”
  4. “Periodontitis: Symptoms & causes.”
  5. “Periodontitis: Diagnosis & treatment,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354479, opens new window.
  6. “Periodontitis: Diagnosis & treatment.”