We know you clean your teeth everyday but no matter how well you brush and floss, everyone ends up with some plaque and tartar build-up after a time. This build-up can only be removed by a dental professional with special instruments and training. A dental hygienist is a registered dental professional who is qualified to “remove hard and soft deposits on teeth” meaning they clean teeth very thoroughly as only a dental professional can.
If plaque and tartar build-up is left too long it can cause gingivitis or periodontitis (the technical terms for gum disease). Preventing gum problems by visits to a hygienist or dentist are an essential part of preventing dental problems.
As well as removing the plaque and tartar from your teeth, we are able make recommendations regarding the way you clean your teeth so that you can perfect your technique and do the best job you can of cleaning your own teeth. This will slow the build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth so you don’t have to come so often to see us. We make our recommendations as to how many times per year an appointment is required based on how well you are cleaning your teeth rather than using an arbitrary timing such as 6 months. This keeps costs as low as possible for patients whilst still ensuring they are properly looked after.
Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by accumulation of dental plaque on the teeth. It is a disease that affects the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease where the gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. It begins in early childhood and increases in prevalence and severity in the early teenage years.
Gingivitis is usually painless and, if not treated, can advance to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of periodontal disease. As the bone and tissues surrounding the teeth deteriorate due to this disease, a gum pocket forms around the tooth. This pocket becomes infected, which destroys more bone and tissue. Eventually, the tooth becomes loose and falls out or needs to be extracted.
Bacteria present in plaque cause periodontal disease. If not removed carefully each day by brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar). Toxins (poisons), produced by bacteria in plaque, irritate the gums. Left in place, the toxins cause the gums to pull away from the teeth and periodontal pockets are formed which fill with more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper and the plaque moves farther and farther down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between the gum and the tooth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
Sometimes gum disease can progress without any symptoms or pain. During a regular dental examination, we check for signs of periodontal disease, so undetected disease can be treated before it can advance.