USC University of Southern California

Periodontics

The Periodontic Clinic specializes in the study, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries to the gums, connective tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease. If you don’t treat it, you can lose your teeth. Your dentist will let you know if you have periodontitis or other periodontal disease and can refer you to our clinic for treatment.

Some of the procedures we perform include:

  • root canal treatment and other root therapies
  • tooth extraction
  • placement of implants (artificial teeth)
  • cosmetic procedures
  •  surgery to the jaw bones

Although you may find periodontal treatment a bit frightening, we do everything we can to explain what we need to do for your treatment, help you relax and provide relief from pain before, during and after treatment.

Our residents (dentists in training) perform all of the surgical treatments and dental implants under the supervision of expert faculty dentists.

Becoming a Patient

The first step in becoming a patient in the Periodontic Clinic is a referral from your dentist. Referrals can be faxed to (213) 740-7064.

All patients are required to present valid photo identification (California driver’s license, California identification card, passport or other government-issued photo identification).

Paying for Your Dental Care

We do not accept Denti-Cal. Patients must pay with cash or credit card.

Click here for more information about paying for your dental care.

Contact Information

To schedule an appointment call (213) 740-1545.

Clinic Hours

Monday through Friday
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Tuesdays until 7 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does a periodontist do?

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and in the placement of dental implants. Becoming a periodontist requires three additional years of full-time education beyond dental school. Aside from procedures aimed at maintaining gum health, periodontists routinely perform cosmetic periodontal procedures such as tissue grafts and tissue reduction. General dentists refer their patients to a periodontist when a patient’s periodontal status requires a specialist’s attention.

2. Why don’t I feel any pain from my periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is often a chronic but silent disease. Patients usually feel no pain despite ongoing damage. Periodontal disease continuously destroys the underlying connection between teeth, gums and bone. Patients who feel pain from periodontal disease are often at a point where treatment options have become limited. Because of this, most therapy is aimed at arresting and preventing further disease.

3. Why have my gums receded?

Receding gums result from ongoing periodontal disease or from overzealous brushing habits. Many factors can influence either cause of recession. In some cases, recessed gums can be treated by a periodontist through tissue grafting and/or through behavioral therapy.

4. How do I know whether I have periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a diagnosis given after careful review of each particular patient. Often patients will exhibit signs and symptoms such as bleeding gums, recessed gums, bone loss surrounding teeth, loose teeth, missing teeth and teeth crowding. Your periodontist will be able to evaluate your oral health and give you an accurate diagnosis.

5. What is a pocket measurement?

Periodontal pockets are the tissue surrounding the teeth and covering the underlying bone. With the progression of disease, tissues surrounding the tooth become inflamed and begin to separate from the tooth. As these tissues separate, they form deeper pockets, which harbor plaque and calculus. Deeper pockets are indicators of disease, so dentists record and analyze pocket measurements in order to gain an accurate understanding of a patient’s periodontal status.

6. Should I be concerned if my gums bleed?

Bleeding gums are one of the signs of inflammation and are one of the indicators of periodontal disease. Most patients notice bleeding gums when brushing or flossing their teeth.

7. Are periodontal procedures painful?

Periodontal procedures are typically performed under local anesthesia, given by injection. Any pain after a procedure can usually be managed with over-the-counter medications.

8. What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Both gingivitis and periodontitis are diseases of the gums. The difference lies mainly in the effect the diseases have on the tissues.

Gingivitis is an infection of the gums when permanent damage has not been done and the tooth is still well anchored within the tissue.

Periodontitis is gingivitis that has progressed to the point where damage to tooth anchorage has occurred. This loss of tooth anchorage is referred to by the periodontist as “attachment loss.”

9. What are the treatments for periodontal disease?

Treatments vary, depending on the severity and stage of disease. After a comprehensive diagnosis, your periodontist may prescribe treatment ranging from a simple cleaning to surgery. Cleanings may take multiple appointments to complete. Surgeries to address periodontal disease take on many forms but all are designed to bring the patient to a maintenance stage. Implants may also be included in therapy to help restore a patient’s chewing capacity.

10. Is there a connection between my general health and my periodontal health?

Intuitively patients understand that the mouth is not separate from the body and that infections in one part of the body can spread and affect other parts of the body. Research has shown that general health can be affected by periodontal health, especially in areas such as heart disease, diabetes, pre-term birth, atherosclerosis and kidney disease.

11. How do dental implants work?

Dental implants are titanium fixtures that form a mechanical anchorage within the bone and mimic the function of a tooth root. This process of anchorage is referred to as integration. The integration process requires time, as it is a biological process involving the host bone and the implant. After integration, an artificial tooth is attached to the implant by a prosthodontist or general dentist.

12. How do I know whether I can have dental implants?

Many factors are involved in determining a patient’s ability to have implants, including overall health, smoking habits and general oral health. Periodontal disease or other oral concerns usually need to be treated before implant procedures can begin. X-rays, CT scans and study models are routinely included in the evaluation of a patient for implant therapy.

13. Can I have dental implants if I am a smoker?

Smoking has been shown to interfere with the healing process throughout the mouth as well as with dental implants. Smokers who wish to have implant therapy may have additional implants placed as a precaution in anticipation of the failure of some of their implants.