Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue. Without treatment, it can destroy the bone that supports your teeth and cause them to loosen or lead to tooth loss. Dr. Deborah K. Ruprecht has helped patients treat gum disease near Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, and Solana Beach, California, for over two decades. To visit with Dr. Ruprecht about your oral health, call 949-472-5499 or request an appointment online.

What causes periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis or gum disease) occurs when bacteria form plaque below the gum line, which irritates the gums and triggers an inflammatory response. The symptoms of gum disease include reddened tissue, swelling and bleeding.

In severe cases of periodontal disease, bacteria will erode gum and supporting bone tissue and cause gum recession, spaces between the teeth and gums, loose and shifting teeth, and eventual tooth loss. Dr. Ruprecht works closely with the patients under her care to avoid or treat disease progression.

What are the types of periodontal disease?

Gingivitis

The mildest form of periodontal disease, gingivitis causes redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums. It usually can be reversed by daily brushing, flossing and regular cleanings by a dental professional. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance into periodontitis, which is more severe.

Periodontitis

As plaque accumulates below the gum line, gums can separate from teeth and create pockets that may become infected. These pockets can deepen and result in destroyed gum tissue and bone as well as loose teeth that may have to be removed. Types of periodontitis include the following:

  • Chronic periodontitis: This type often progresses slowly. It is the most common form and is most prevalent in adults.
  • Aggressive periodontitis: This type is characterized by rapid detachment of gums from teeth and rapid bone loss. It is likely to appear in smokers and those with a family history of periodontitis.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease: In this case, necrosis (death of tissue) affects gums, bone tissue and the fiber connecting teeth to the bone. This extremely rare form of periodontitis is prevalent in those who suffer from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), immunosuppression or malnutrition. In some cases, periodontitis is associated with systemic disease affecting other parts of the body. Conditions like diabetes are associated with this form of periodontal disease.

How can I prevent periodontal disease?

The first step in preventing periodontal disease is to brush at least twice a day and floss once a day. Regular brushing removes plaque and debris from between the teeth and below the gum line. You should also see your dental specialist at least twice a year to help maintain good oral health.

What are the risk factors for periodontal disease?

  • Poor oral health habits: Without twice-daily brushing and regular flossing, there is an increased likelihood of plaque buildup.
  • Age: Adults 65 and older have higher incidences of periodontal disease according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Medications: Certain drugs can reduce the flow of saliva, and the mouth can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea often results in mouth breathing, which encourages bacteria growth in a person’s mouth during sleep and may lead to plaque buildup and contribute to progressive gum disease.
  • Tobacco use: Users of cigarettes and chewing tobacco are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. Tobacco use is said to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
  • Genetic predisposition: Research has found some individuals may be genetically susceptible to periodontal disease.

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease can be hard to detect in its early stages. Signs of gingivitis include bleeding, redness, and swollen or tender gums. Severe cases of periodontal disease may have gums that appear to be pulling away from teeth, persistent bad breath, loose teeth, pus between gums and teeth, or mouth sores.

How is periodontal disease treated?

If you suspect you may have periodontal disease, you should seek the counsel of a periodontist like Dr. Ruprecht, who is a dental specialist uniquely trained in the treatment of periodontal disease.

Depending on the severity of disease, Dr. Ruprecht may recommend treatments ranging from deep cleaning, medication or surgery. Other procedures restore esthetics and function in the event of tooth loss. Treatment may also include a care routine and avoiding certain habits like smoking.

If you have experienced the symptoms described here and would like Dr. Ruprecht to help you restore a healthy and attractive smile, call 949-472-5499 or request an appointment online.

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