Gum disease is the swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues around your teeth. Often swollen gums can bleed when brushing your teeth. If gum disease is not treated it can turn into periodontal disease, which means that the tissues around your teeth and the bone supporting your teeth can deteriorate resulting in tooth loss. To prevent and treat gum disease you need to make sure that you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing or flossing correctly.
Treatment with the hygienist
It is important to have regular visits with the dental hygienist to help prevent or treat gum diseases. The hygienist will show you how to maintain your gums through good oral hygiene; the removal of plaque which is key to having healthy gums and teeth. The hygienist will also remove staining caused by smoking, some foods and drinks plus remove calculus known as tartar. The information below will help you to understand why regular hygiene appointments are important in maintaining a healthy oral cavity.
Depending on your gum health and personal preference the hygienist will scale your teeth using both the ultra sonic scaler and hand scaler. This will remove plaque bacteria and calculus from the teeth. During this process staining will also be removed. The hygienist will also recommend the best oral hygiene aides for you to use that will help you remove the plaque bacteria at home.
If more treatment is needed for gingivitis or periodontal disease the hygienist and dentist will discuss this with you and make appropriate appointments. This treatment includes a full gum charting and a deeper clean to help the regeneration of healthy tissue. This is nothing to fear, you are completely in control of all of your treatments provided and you will be informed at every stage. The hygienist can provide a local anaesthetic or use a topical anaesthetic to help you relax and feel confident during treatment.
What is Plaque and Calculus?
Plaque is a soft, sticky, tooth coloured bio film containing many types of bacteria that adheres to the tooth surface. If plaque is not removed it becomes calcified by the minerals in saliva, this is known as calculus. Calculus is a hard substance which sticks to the teeth and can only be removed by a dental professional. If it is not removed the rough surface of the calculus provides an ideal surface for more plaque to retain.
Understanding Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis is non destructive of supporting structures around the tooth and means inflammation of the gums. It is mainly plaque induced, therefore reversed through good oral hygiene. Around 15-20% of the population are effected
Signs and symptoms include:
- Bright red gums
- Bleeding on brushing
- Inflammation of the gums
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Sore gums
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease which effects the gums, bone and other supporting structures of the teeth which can eventually lead to tooth loss. It is irreversible and can only be stabilised through good oral hygiene and treatment with a hygienist or periodontist (gum specialist). Around 10% of the population are effected. It is caused by plaque bacteria but with other contributing factors such as family history, smoking, stress and diet. Other general disease such as diabetes can also make you more susceptible, so it is especially important that the diabetes is under control. It works both ways meaning diabetes is a risk factor for periodontal disease, but also periodontal disease could have a negative effect on glycaemic control. It has also been suggested that periodontal disease can be connected to increased risk of heart disease. It is the inflammation caused by periodontal disease that is the link. More studies are being carried out to further understand the relationship.
Signs and symptoms include
- Same as for gingivitis
- Gingival recession
- Mobile teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
Other contributing factors to consider are
- Hormones – Menopause, Pregnancy
- Medications, especially those that reduce saliva flow. Others may cause the gums to over grow, this is known as gingival overgrowth
- Social history – smoking
- Family history
Other treatments the Dental Hygienist can provide
The dentist may refer children to the hygienist for fissure sealants which is a preventative non invasive treatment. This is to protect the fissures in the tooth from bacteria and acids, therefore reducing the risk of decay.
The dentist may refer you for impressions of your mouth to make appliances such as gum shields to help protect your teeth during contact sports.
This is to remove staining only from the teeth that may have been caused by smoking, certain foods and drinks such as red wine.
It is a combination of bicarbonate powder, water and air that is blown onto the tooth. It is especially good for pits and fissures in the tooth and interdental areas. This process does not damage the tooth surface.