Healthy gums are crucial to a healthy mouth. The secret to achieving healthy gums is two-fold: 1) fantastic cleaning routines at home, and 2) support from a hygienist.
The vast majority of our patient’s benefit from seeing the hygienist. This is because no one (even dentists) manages to clean 100% of the plaque (bacteria) from their teeth. With time this plaque will mineralise to form calculus, which is not readily removed with toothbrushing. As well as removing this calculus, hygienists also provide advice to help you avoid future plaque and calculus build-up, and polish the teeth to remove surface staining. This all helps maintain a cleaner, healthier and sometimes noticeably whiter smile.
Gingivitis literally means inflammation of the gums. It is triggered by plaque, resulting in the gums becoming sore and prone to bleeding. By removing any plaque and calculus gingivitis will resolve within several weeks.
Periodontitis should be thought of as more advanced gingivitis. The difference is that the inflammation is so pronounced that the gums and bone that hold the teeth in place recede (shrink back). As well as making the teeth look longer, they have less support meaning they may become loose or even be lost. Lastly, as the roots become exposed, patients experience more sensitivity.
Once again, treatment is based upon diligent cleaning to remove plaque and calculus that trigger the inflammatory response. With unstable periodontitis there will be a deep pocket between the tooth and the gum. The deeper the pockets are the less effective a toothbrush is at cleaning within them. This means hygiene therapy to clean to the base of the pocket properly is even more important to stabilise the disease.
As no one cleans their teeth perfectly, everyone can benefit from some advice to help maximise their cleaning efficiency at home. The hygienist will tailor this advice to you after discussing your current cleaning routines and techniques.
For someone with good gum health the appointment will also include removing any calculus, as well as polishing the teeth to remove any staining.
If you suffer from gingivitis the appointment will likely focus on cleaning advice and calculus removal over stain removal. This is because it is important to establish health first and to then move on to the cosmetic aspect.
With periodontitis it can be time consuming to clean out the deep pockets thoroughly and gently. As such, you may need several appointments to clean the whole mouth. The hygienist will discuss with you how many appointments they anticipate from the outset.
At St Oswald’s we are constantly investing in modern technologies to provide optimal care. EMS Air Flow is a revolutionary approach in delivering professional mechanical tooth cleaning. It involves spraying the teeth with air, water and powder. This powder will remove all plaque, while being delicate and respectful to the teeth and gums. It is so gentle it can be used both above and below the gums.
Mild forms of periodontitis can often be predictably stabilised through excellent oral hygiene at home and the support of our hygienists. This is because the pocket between the tooth and gum will be relatively shallow and is therefore easier to clean.
If you have severe periodontitis these pockets will be deeper, making it more challenging to clean them effectively. In such scenarios you may be better served by seeing a specialist periodontist – a dentist with further post-graduate training that is focused on gums.
The specialist may suggest sticking to a purely cleaning based strategy, which will be more likely to succeed with their more expert support. They may also suggest a treatment called pocket reduction, where the pocket around the tooth is made shallower to facilitate easier cleaning.
If you ever want to see a specialist please raise this with your dentist or hygienist. Please also be assured that if either of them feel seeing a specialist will better serve you then they will make this suggestion themselves.