Maintaining Oral Health
Gum and periodontal disease is the most common infection in man, woman or child.
Gum disease has been linked to health problems including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and low birth weight. There are many links between gum disease and general health.
Helping you maintain good oral hygiene is the most important thing we do, helping you achieve optimal health.
Chronic oral infections in the gums, teeth and jaw bones can often go undetected and yet have a significant impact on our health.
These have been shown to predispose us to cardiovascular disease, diabetes osteoporosis, low birth weight in children and some cancers.
The main factors influencing the health of your mouth are:
- Optimal nutrition
- Brushing and flossing – how well and how often.
- Your own immune system.
We take a holistic approach to prevention of gum disease.
This includes general dentistry protocols such as a thorough scale, clean and curettage together with oral hygiene instruction.
In a healthy mouth the gum is like a tight collar around a tooth making it easy to brush away plaque and allows for you to keep the gums healthy and clean avoiding chronic inflammation or infection.
Chronic inflammation or infection (Periodontal disease) occurs when plaque and tartar build up around the tooth, pushing the gum away from the tooth, creating a pocket which is impossible to clean, resulting in chronic inflammation and eventually irreversible bone loss.
Although it rarely causes pain, the early signs of periodontal disease are bleeding gums when you brush or floss.
Inflammation and/or infection of the gum (gingiva) or the supporting structures of a tooth (periodontal ligament) can cause problems for your health. Inflammation and/or infection can cause bleeding of the gums when you brush or occasionally floss your teeth which can, over a number of years, cause loss of bone around your teeth and eventually tooth loss.
The symptoms of gum disease include red and puffy gums, bleeding, persistent bad breath, spaces that begin to appear between teeth, one or more teeth begin to loosen, receding gums, vague aching or itching, as well as other discomfort.
If you have the following, it is worth making an appointment to see our dental hygienists:
- Bleeding gums
- Inflammation around your teeth
- Teeth sensitivity
- Bad breath
- If you’re not satisfied with your oral health routine
- Sleeping problems
- Breathing problems
- Tongue tie
Dental Hygienists focus on the detection and treatment of gum disease, as well as specialising in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay, by instructing you on the most appropriate home care procedures.
At the appointment, the hygienist will perform a thorough assessment of soft tissues within the mouth, cancer screening, tooth and gum health analysis and diagnosis.
The teeth and gum assessment is called a periodontal chart.
The periodontal chart is a diagnostic tool which helps the hygienist identify where the gum disease is present, and to what extent. This assists in treatment, as well as monitoring the condition of the gum health over time.
There are two forms of gum disease than can occur in our mouth: acute (e.g. gingivitis) and chronic (periodontitis). For patients with periodontitis, a more tailored treatment approach may be required to aid the recovery of your teeth and gums.
A Dental Hygiene visit will generally be 45-60 minutes of dedicated time focused on your oral health.
The Oral Health Therapist/Hygienist will firstly assess your sleeping, breathing and any other concerns or symptoms you may have.
After this initial discussion, the Hygienist will assess the health of your teeth through the periodontal chart.
Treatment will commence, cleaning around each of your teeth and under your gums. The hygienist will then finish by polishing your teeth. This part is commonly called a ‘scale and clean’.
The hygienist may also take photographic records and/or diagnostic x-rays to ensure there are no concerns, sharing these with your Dentist to assess if required.
Stages of periodontal disease are described below:
Normal healthy gums are characterised by a pink, firm appearance without plaque or bleeding when brushing/flossing.
Deposits around the gum line push the gum away from the tooth and create small pockets of chronic inflammation which borders on chronic infection.
Simple routine regular scaling and polishing of teeth can make a difference not only to the appearance of the teeth but your wellbeing and general health.
Commonly Asked Questions
The gum should be like a very tight collar around the tooth. There’s a crevasse that runs around every single tooth in your mouth.
From the top of that crevasse to the bottom of that crevasse should be around 2-3 millimetres because that’s firm, it’s healthy and it’s easy to clean.
If the gum gets pushed away from the tooth for any reason, and a pocket forms on the side of the tooth, there could be an infection and/or inflammation.
We now know that the body is connected. And because of that, an inflammation somewhere in the body will affect other parts of the body.
So seeing a hygienist is perhaps the most important part of our treatment.
Fixing things is one thing, but keeping them healthy is by far the most important.
Yes. One of the most important reasons for regular professional preventive care is the removal of the bacterial colonies (Plaque) from between the teeth and in the spaces (pockets) between the teeth and gums. This is important for 3 reasons.
80% of bad breath comes from the bacterial colonies.
If we don’t remove this plaque, the bacteria will cause the loss of teeth due to periodontal jawbone disease. (This is how most teeth are lost).
Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease. (There is also a link with periodontal jawbone disease, stroke, diabetes osteoporosis and a wide range of other health conditions)
Yes. It is often better to see the hygienist during pregnancy to reduce the risk of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is often exacerbated during pregnancy. This is most likely due to increased levels of progesterone and its effect on the body’s small blood vessels. It may also be due to hormonal changes altering tissue metabolism. As a dentist or hygienist, it is quite common for us to see pregnant women complaining that their gums are bleeding significantly more than before they became pregnant.
The interrelationship between periodontal disease and pregnancy reinforces the need for women to see their dentist regularly before and during pregnancy.
Yes you can. In few cases, teeth can be sensitive after a teeth clean. This is because we have taken away the calculus build up around your teeth. Other times, gums can be sore if we have had to provide a deep clean. Usually after 48 hours, this will reduce. If you have any concerns after this, we recommend you call us.
No we don’t.
There are a small percentage of cases in which topical fluoride can benefit, however this is done with care, applied topically and performed whilst isolating the specific treatment area.
Fluoridated toothpastes are also recommended in specific situations (e.g. for active caries).
Yes, the Dentist can perform a check up at the same time. This is actually the best way to maintain good oral health – keep your regular dental hygiene visits, and have the dentist perform a check up once a year.
Routine professional dental care is extremely important.
Each person mouth is unique. Everyone will react differently to treatment. We therefore need to see you according to your unique circumstances. This may vary from 2-3 months to twice a year. Regular preventive care is an important part of avoiding periodontal jawbone disease.
There are a number of other factors that could influence regularity:
- Gum condition
- Immune system and conditions
- What you eat
Technique is more important. The manual toothbrush is more technique sensitive whereas with electric toothbrush eliminates this technique issue.
If electric is used correctly, it can reduce the incidence of recession compared to manual toothbrush which can be typically used with a heavy hand when concentrating on technique.
They should both be used if possible. Interdental brushes are more effective in wider spaces between teeth, while floss is great for tighter spaces (e.g. where teeth overlap and for crowded teeth).
Flossing is great if done well.
If your hands bled every time you washed them, would you “leave them for a bit” and stop washing them?
Clearly you would answer no to this. Therefore, why do most of us think it is normal to just stop flossing for a while if your gums bleed after flossing?
We need to take our oral health seriously, our body already does.
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