At Dixon Landing Family Dental Care in Milpitas, California, we understand that many people have questions about periodontal disease. We have provided answers to some of the questions that we hear most often. If your question is not answered below, or to make an appointment with Dr. Maung Maung Ryan Thaw, please feel free to contact our office at 408-942-7791 .

What is gum disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is a degenerative oral condition that affects the soft tissues of the mouth as well as your other supporting oral structures. It begins as a mild infection of the gum tissue, and if left untreated can progress to a more severe stage in which your oral tissues are destroyed. Gum disease can cause tooth loss, bone loss, and gum recession.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Common symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Bleeding while eating or brushing
  • Red, swollen, and tender gums
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth and gum recession
  • Gangrene in the tissues
  • Pus between the teeth
  • Changes in your bite or in the fit of removable oral appliances

What is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist who has received 3 years of additional training beyond dental school in order to learn how to treat the soft tissues of the mouth and the underlying jawbone which supports the teeth. This specialized training includes both surgical and non-surgical management of periodontal disease as well as implant placement.

When should you see a periodontist?
You should see a periodontist if you suspect that you have developed gum disease. Your general dentist may also refer you to a periodontist if you are diagnosed with gum disease during one of your regular appointments.

How is gum disease diagnosed and treated?
Gum disease is diagnosed through a periodontal examination performed by your general dentist or a periodontist. This exam may include oral cancer screening; the charting of missing, shifting, or impacted teeth. The dentist may also measure gum recession, periodontal pocket measurements, and an assessment of the abrasion or wear on exposed roots. The dentist may also perform a bite exam, X-ray evaluation, and bacteriologic testing.

Treatments include bone and soft tissue grafting, scaling and root planing, antibiotic therapy, or surgical procedures.

How can gum disease be prevented?
You can help prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene and by visiting the dentist regularly. While you may still develop a mild form of periodontal disease, early detection will allow for an effective treatment.

What increases my risk of periodontal disease?
Your risk of developing gum disease increases if you smoke or use tobacco products, or if you have a systemic health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or osteoporosis. In some cases, gum disease can be genetic.