Hygienist appointments are indispensable in keeping gum disease at bay, yet many of us here in the UK avoid them altogether or substitute them for visits to the dentist. Below, we outline the importance of such appointments and illustrate how gum disease is caused and treated.
Firstly, here are some useful facts and information about gum disease:
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is characterised by swelling, infection and soreness of the tissues that support your teeth. Gum disease is the biggest cause of tooth loss in over 40s and was recently linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia and historically a series of other complications such as stroke, heart disease and lung infection.
The two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, its main symptom being bleeding gums whilst brushing. If gingivitis is left untreated it can transition to periodontal disease where the bone that anchors the teeth is affected and eventually bone loss occurs.
What are the causes of gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build up of plaque, a substance that collects over the surface of your teeth over time, affecting the protective coating known as tooth enamel. It is made up of bacteria that feeds off sugars in food and drink which in turn, produces acids as waste products. As a result, minerals in the teeth are dissolved and decay can occur. When plaque forms, it hardens, creating the perfect area for additional plaque to settle.
How do hygienist appointments prevent gum disease?
A hygienist has a particular skill set that sets them apart from a dentist when it comes to knowledge about the health of your gums. Your dental hygienist can perform what is known as a scale and polish (a deep clean of your teeth) in order to remove deep staining such as plaque from your tooth surfaces. This technique consists of removing food particles and bacteria from in-between your teeth and polishing them to give them a smooth and shiny finish. Regular scale and polish appointments will prevent a heavy build up of plaque, minimising your risk of tooth loss as you grow older. Another role your hygienist plays is educating you about how to brush effectively. Everyone’s teeth are different and your tooth structure may inform the way you hygienist recommends you brush to get the best out of your 2 x 2 minute sessions each day. Their educational role is essential in teaching you how to floss and addressing how you can make improvements at home. Regular appointments will avoid the need for more serious an costly treatment later on in life.
If you would like to arrange a consultation with us here at Cliftonville, please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange this. If you are a new patient, please note that we are happy to accept patients on a private basis for both adults and children and we welcome nervous patients and hope that we can change the way you view visiting the dentist, making you feel more at ease.