WHAT IS A DENTAL HYGIENIST?
Dental Hygienists are registered dental professionals whose main role is promoting good oral health through prevention and education.
By educating and motivating patients in the necessity of good oral hygiene and diet advice, they help patients prevent gum disease by scaling and polishing the teeth and carefully monitoring patients.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Gum disease develops when plaque bacteria, a sticky, colourless membrane that develops in the mouth, is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.
Plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that can only be removed professionally by a dentist or hygienist.
It is estimated that half of all adults in the UK experience some degree of gum disease.
If you have gum disease, your gums may bleed when you clean your teeth and you may experience bad breath. This stage is known as Gingivitis. If Gingivitis is left untreated it can progress to Periodontitis, which affects the tissues that supports the teeth and hold them in place.
In the UK up to 15% of adults are estimated to have severe periodontitis, with many more effected less severely. If periodontitis is left untreated it can eventually result in tooth loss and may also increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and other health problems.
As well as poor oral hygiene, a number of things can increase your risk of developing gum disease:-
Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite excellent oral care habits, these people maybe more likely to develop periodontal disease.
Stress is linked to many serious health conditions. Research has shown that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight infection, including periodontal disease.
Some drugs can affect your oral health. Just as you notify other care providers of all your medicines and any other changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.
Other systemic diseases
Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardio vascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
PREVENTION OF GUM DISEASE AND TOOTH DECAY
Good oral hygiene will help keep your plaque levels down and help prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
You can maintain good oral hygiene by:-
- brushing your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Studies show that powered brushes with a oscillating action such as the Braun Oral B remove more plaque than a manual toothbrush.
- cleaning between your teeth removes plaque bacteria from areas where your toothbrush doesn’t reach.
- cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
- visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.
There are many oral care products now available to patients. Your dentist or hygienist will recommend those that are best for you.
With regular professional cleaning by a hygienist, combined with a good oral hygiene regime at home, you will help to keep your mouth healthy, which in turn will improve the appearance, function and longevity of your teeth.
DIAGNOSING GUM DISEASE
The dentist or hygienist will examine your gums using a periodontal (gum) probe. The probe is inserted next to the tooth and around the gum line. If the gum is healthy the probe should not slide below the gum line. In cases of periodontitis the probe will reach deeper under the gum line. X-rays may also be taken to detect any bone loss.