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Dental Hygiene

What causes 'gum disease'?
Gum disease is caused by plaque bacteria, which forms naturally on the tooth surface.

If plaque is left on the teeth, the gums become irritated and may bleed when you brush. The majority of people have some form of gum disease ranging from mild to severe.

Other factors can also increase the severity of gum disease, the most common being smoking, diabetes and pregnancy.

What is 'gingivitis'?
The early stage of gum disease is called 'gingivitis'. If gum disease is not treated, the gums may swell, forming a little pocket around the tooth. Plaque collects in this and cannot be removed by a toothbrush.

When plaque is left on the teeth it may harden to form 'calculus 'or tartar.

What is 'periodontitis'?
As time goes on and if left untreated, the pockets can get deeper, trap even more plaque and tartar and may become infected.

Over time gingivitis can develop into chronic (long term) periodontitis, in which the jaw bone can become infected and damaged, causing teeth to loosen or in severe cases, to fall out.

How do we treat gum disease?
Treatment consists of scaling & polishing with the hygienist in order to gently remove plaque and tartar deposits from the tooth surface. This may be carried out under local anaesthetic for those with more sensitive teeth.

Depending on the severity of gum disease more than one visit may be required, after which a maintenance program is recommended.

A good oral hygiene regimen is a key factor in determining how well the gums respond to treatment. For example, the hygienist may recommend an improved brushing and flossing technique along with a daily mouthwash.

More recently there seems to be mounting evidence to show that there is a possible link between the bacteria involved in gum disease and increased risk of heart disease. It now seems that maintaining oral health, through good oral hygiene and regular dental and hygiene visits can help play a vital role to leading a healthy lifestyle.


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