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Causes of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal (gum) disease, which is also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis, is a progressive disease which if left untreated may result in tooth loss.  Gum disease begins with the inflammation and irritation of the gingival tissues which surround and support the teeth.  The cause of this inflammation is the toxins found in plaque which cause an ongoing bacterial infection.

The bacterial infection colonizes in the gingival tissue and deep pockets form between the teeth and the gums.  If treated promptly by a periodontist, the effects of mild inflammation (known as gingivitis) are completely reversible.  However, if the bacterial infection is allowed to progress, periodontal disease begins to destroy the gums and the underlying jawbone; promoting tooth loss.  In some cases, the bacteria from this infection can travel to other areas of the body via the bloodstream.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures.

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will ensure and preserve the natural dentition and supporting bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacteria toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.

  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue and significant bone loss.

  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.

  • Pregnancy and menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.

  • Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease, which means bacterial infections may possibly beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.

  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.

  • Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of the teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.

  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums; making them more susceptible to gum disease.  Steroid use promotes gingival overgrowth, which makes swelling more commonplace and allows bacteria to colonize more readily in the gum tissue.

Treatment of Gum Disease

Periodontists specialize in the treatment of gum disease and the placement of dental implants.  A periodontist can perform effective cleaning procedures in deep pockets such as scaling and root planing, and also prescribe antibiotic and antifungal medications to treat infection and halt the progression of the disease.

In the case of tooth loss, the periodontist is able to perform tissue grafts to promote natural tissue regeneration, and insert dental implants if a tooth or several teeth are missing.  Where gum recession causes a “toothy” looking smile, the periodontist can recontour the gingival tissue to create an even and aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Preventing periodontal disease is critical in preserving the natural dentition.  Addressing the causes of gum disease and discussing them with your dentist will help prevent the onset, progression, and recurrence of periodontal disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about the causes or treatments pertaining to gum disease, please ask your dentist.

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"My many years of contact with Dr Parminter's office have been OUTSTANDING! Both professionally and friendly, they are the very best. My principal contacts have been with Dr Parminter, Sherri, Jennifer, Cathy and Tammi, of whom I have great respect. I have nothing but pleasant comments for the entire staff."

Joseph Campbell, NASA Eng.

"I have been treated by Dr. Robert Parminter for 20 years for all my dental needs. I highly respect him as a dentist and a man who truly cares about his patients. His staff is world class in every respect and they make you feel like family at all times. I recommend Dr. Parminter to all my family and friends for him to be their dentist."

Lynn Popovich

The following will serve as an affirmative testimonial characterizing the attributes of Robert Parminter, DDS.:
He is a well-trained, Loma Linda educated Whittier Dentist succeeding his Father's established practice which, under his capable management, has flourished and significantly expanded. Well regarded by his local Peers, the following adjectives are appropriate in his description: He is a skilled, conscientious, courteous, available practioner of Dentistry providing outstanding quality care-so much so that many of his patients travel great distances to avail themselves of his care. His office staff is exemplary in the care they provide, treating you "like members of the family." His waiting room is quite adequate in size, has the lates varitey of magazines, beautiful wall pictures and is decorated appropirately for the various holidays. He utilizes the latest Diagnostic-Therapeutic Dental Equipment in providing optimal care. He is very selective in his referals to the more highly trained Dental Specialists requiring special evaluation and treatment. In summary, Dr. Robert Parminter is a very valuable asset to the Whittier Community for its Dental needs and has provided superb quality care to me, members of my family and friends for many years!

Paul P. Deasy, M.D. Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology University of Southern California School of Medicine Los Angeles, California

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Dr. Robert Parminter
8937 La Entrada Ave Whittier, CA 90605
Phone: (562) 449-3348 URL of Map