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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue.  A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues.  Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line.  When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue.  There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease:

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.  It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding.  This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.

  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.  It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.

  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.  Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.  Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.

Here are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:

  • Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed.  The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection.  A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.

  • Tissue regeneration – When the bone and gum tissues have been destroyed, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures.  A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the regeneration process.

  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment which can be performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.  Surgery on the jawbone is another option which serves to eliminate indentations in the bone which foster the colonization of bacteria.

  • Dental implants – When teeth have been lost due to periodontal disease, the aesthetics and functionality of the mouth can be restored by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone.  Tissue regeneration procedures may be required prior to the placement of a dental implant in order to strengthen the bone.

Ask your dentist if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.

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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