Maintaining Healthy Teeth AND Gums
Should seeing a dental hygienist be an ‘optional extra’ or an essential part of your oral health care?
Advances in home dental care, and better oral health education, means that most people are now increasingly aware of the importance of looking after their teeth. Home products such as electric toothbrushes and more scientifically produced toothpastes provide assistance in helping our Addlestone patients take more responsibility for their own oral health care.
Despite all of the products and advice available, patients do still need to use the services of the dental team at Synergy Clinic on a regular basis. It isn’t just your teeth that need to be examined though, and ideally patients should also take advantage of the comprehensive hygienist services that we offer. Although more and more people are aware of the importance of good gum health, the fact that only around one in five people use dental floss, suggests that we are still a long way away from where we should be.
Why do you need to look after your gums?
Like teeth, gums can become infected and when this happens, gum disease will likely follow. This usually comprises of two stages; gingivitis, the relatively milder form, and periodontitis, a more severe form, where not only the gums, but the underlying bone structure becomes infected.
Both of these gum health issues can have a number of very unpleasant side effects, including
- Sore and swollen gums
- Loose and wobbly teeth
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
- Pus between the teeth
- Bad breath/halitosis
Whilst these symptoms are very unpleasant, gum disease can also lead to tooth loss if not treated.
Why do we get gum disease?
Though most people brush their teeth diligently, many forget to brush the gum line too. Failing to do this means that bacteria collect and grow, and eventually your gums will start to exhibit some of the symptoms above.
How can we prevent it?
Some lifestyle choices and health issues make gum disease more likely. We will discuss these more in a future blog, but smoking, alcohol and diabetes increase the risk of gum disease. If you fall into any of these groups, you should make sure to have your gum health checked more regularly. Other than that, correct cleaning is essential for prevention. This takes place both at home, and at the dentists.
You should make sure that you brush with a relatively new brush (or brush head) that is no more than three months old. When brushing, make sure to angle the bristles so that they reach below the gum line. Finally, you should use dental floss on a daily basis. If you find this difficult to do, this is just one extra reason to see a dental hygienist who will help and show you how.
Why the dental hygienist?
For too long now, seeing the hygienist has been seen as an ‘optional extra’ by some people. The truth is that it should be quite the opposite and should be an essential part of the way that you look after your teeth and gums.
Seeing the dentist at your local Addlestone dental practice serves a number of purposes. The first of these is educational. When you come to see the hygienist, they will ask you a number of questions about your lifestyle and how you clean your teeth. Following this, and an examination, they may suggest ways that you can look after your gums better. This is likely to include flossing if you don’t already.
The hygienist’s role is not just educational, important though that aspect is. They will also give your teeth and gums a professional clean. Whilst brushing and flossing at home will remove much of the plaque on the teeth; when this hardens and forms tartar, this can only be removed effectively via a ‘scale and polish’ treatment. This procedure is non invasive and consists of three parts.
Firstly, the hygienist will use a tool to ‘scrape’ away the bulk of the tartar. This often collects between our teeth, and whilst some people may find this part a little unpleasant, it really doesn’t hurt and greatly reduces the risk of dental problems.
Secondly, a sonic tool is used to shatter and remove the bulk of the remaining tartar from the teeth.
Finally, a high speed toothbrush is used to remove any remaining deposits. This also removes some surface staining and can have the effect of making your teeth a little brighter – a nice side bonus as well as cleaner teeth and fresher mouth! We also offer the the highly effective Airflow system, which uses a combination of air, water and bicarbonate, to gently clean your teeth.
What if I already have gum disease?
Though prevention is important, many cases are reversible through treatment, particularly when caught early. This may be little more than a discussion on how to improve your home oral health care although the ‘scale and polish’ procedure will also help a lot. This may be sufficient to reverse, or at least manage, the problem of early-stage gum disease.
Not taking care of your gums, and avoiding cleaning them at home or professionally, means that periodontitis is much more likely. Once it has reached the stage where the roots of the tooth and/or surrounding bone are affected, the only option is to have a deep clean, or root scaling procedure. This is an invasive procedure that has to be carried out by a suitably qualified dentist and using a local anaesthetic. It is not a guarantee that a tooth can be saved though, and we strongly recommend that prevention is the best option, rather than a potentially unpleasant procedure.
If you have never seen a dental hygienist before and would like to find out more, or would like to make an appointment with the hygienist here at Synergy Clinic in Addlestone, please call us on 01932 856541.