A guide to Gum Disease, Your “frequently asked questions” about periodontal health

At Harmony Smile Dental, our team is committed to maintaining or restoring balanced smiles within a harmonious, good-natured, and inviting environment. In partnership with you and your family, one of the best things we do is keep the gums that surround, support, and protect your teeth healthy. In doing so, we prevent gum disease and the need for costly, time-consuming, and invasive restorative treatment.

How do you care for patients’ gums?

Healthy gums are built on a foundation of routine professional cleanings and exams. Our hygienists are trained to remove stubborn plaque and harmful bacteria, which irritates the gums and progressively erodes soft tissue and bone. During these 6-month checkups, Dr. Zhao also detects problems with your gums early before they cause irreversible damage. We also provide ongoing guidance on effectively cleaning your gums and on oral care products that are best for you.

What are the biggest threats to your gums?

Along with tooth decay, periodontal disease or gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Food debris, harmful oral bacteria, and plaque contribute to developing this progressive condition. Gum disease eventually breaks down the supportive tissue and bone in the jaw.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Early-stage gum disease or gingivitis may be “silent” or asymptomatic. Because of this, it is critical to maintain exams at our practice. So, our dentist can detect subtle signs of gum disease or underlying conditions that you may not know you have. However, trouble signs may include:

  • Gums that appear darker or redder than usual
  • Visible blood on your toothbrush or floss
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Halitosis
  • Bad taste

The advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis, is characterized by receding gums and wider spaces or pockets between the teeth and gums. Teeth may begin to feel loose or shift, which causes changes with your “bite” (or how the upper and lower teeth fit together when you close your mouth).

Are the effects of gum disease reversible?

Yes! If detected sufficiently early into the disease process, we can reverse its effects and restore the structure, health, and appearance of your gums conservatively. However, if the condition is not treated and is allowed to progress, it can cause irreversible tissue loss. In those cases, Dr. Zhao can rebuild the gummy tissue or bone with techniques such as grafting.

What treatment options are available?

Treatment depends on the stage of the disease. For early gingival inflammation, our dentist may recommend oral care modifications at home. He may also introduce additional oral care products. As needed, lifestyle modifications may be necessary to minimize or eliminate risk factors. Earlier stage active disease can also be resolved with a “deep cleaning” known as scaling and root planing. Later-stage gum disease may require more aggressive periodontal therapy.

The health of your gums can’t wait! Schedule your checkup today by calling (408) 738-1000. Dr. Zhao may also suggest more frequent visits to our office in Sunnyvale if you have risk factors for gum disease, including use of tobacco products, diabetes, a family history of periodontal disease, or inconsistent oral hygiene. 

Gum Disease

Gum Disease

The 3 stages of gum disease are gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis is caused by toxins irritating the gum line as a result of plaque buildup. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis includes swelling, sensitivity, and bleeding of the gums during brushing and flossing. Gingivitis can be easily reversed through professional care and good home oral hygiene. Periodontitis is categorized by irreversible bone loss that results from untreated gingivitis. The gums may begin to form a pocket below the gum line which traps food and plaque. Dental treatment and home care can help prevent from further damage, but at this stage, the results are not reversible. Advanced periodontitis is when the fibers and bones supporting the teeth destroyed. This may cause teeth to shift or loosen. Teeth may have to be removed depending on how advanced the disease has become and if treatments are not effective. You can begin by preventing gum disease with good oral health. Pick up a brochure or ask your dentist today.

Dr. Zhao

Dr. Zhao

Dr. Ryan Zhao, DDS, PhD, the dental specialist at Harmony Smile Dental in Sunnyvale, California, prioritizes preventive care to optimize oral health. With a foundation of trust, compassion, and expertise, Dr. Zhao dedicates quality time to each patient, restoring smiles through state-of-the-art procedures. Holding a DDS from the University of California, San Francisco, and a PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he remains at the forefront of dentistry as a member of professional organizations. Fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, Dr. Zhao's commitment to personalized care and continuous learning is reflected in his authoritative and trustworthy approach.