In order to keep your gums healthy you need to remove the daily build up of plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth by -
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. Ask your dentist which type of tooth brush is best for you, as many of us use brushes that are too hard or too large.
- Floss your teeth, as a toothbrush doesn't always reach into the gaps in between the teeth or below the gum line.
- Do not brush your teeth too hard as this can damage your gums, ask your dentist or hygienist to show you the correct technique
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
Healthy gums are –
- Pink in colour
- No areas of redness or inflammation
- No bleeding when brushing or flossing
- No tenderness or discomfort
If the daily build up of plaque is not removed this can lead to the first stages of gum disease ‘Gingivitis’
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is caused by sticky bacteria which are known as ‘plaque’. Plaque collects in the small gaps between the gums and the teeth and if not removed by regular brushing & flossing will multiply by feeding on sugars found in your food and drink. This can lead to -
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Soreness or discomfort
- Appear red in colour, puffy or swollen
Bleeding when brushing or flossing your teeth is the earliest and most common sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible if treated by a hygienist or by improved brushing and flossing techniques. However, if left untreated you will develop the later stages of gum disease, which is known as ‘Periodontal Disease’.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease is the later stages of gum disease. This is when the bacteria infection under the gums progresses deeper and affects the bone and tissue supporting the tooth.
Your gums will –
- Bleed when brushing or flossing.
- Will be red, swollen and tender.
- Bad Breath.
- The gum will have pulled away from the tooth, this is called ‘Pocketing’
- Pus may be seen in the pockets around the tooth.
The infection damages the tissue that connects the gum to the roots of the tooth. Once the tissue has been destroyed the gum pulls away from the tooth, this forms a pocket which bacteria thrive in. If not treated, in time the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw will dissolve, making the teeth loose and eventually the teeth will fall out
Periodontal disease is irreversible, but you can slow down the progression by regular visits to the Dentist and Hygienist also improving your oral hygiene at home.
The best way to maintain good oral hygiene is to brush and floss your teeth and to visit your dentist for regularly. Your dentist not only examines your teeth for signs of decay or damage, he also looks for early signs of gum disease and oral cancer.
It is normally recommended that you visit your dentist twice a year, although people who have severe gum disease or a weakened immune system may need to visit the dentist more often.
Your dentist will first ask if there have been any problems since your last dental check up and take a note of any new medication that you may be taking.
At your check up your dentist will :
- Check for early signs of decay or breakages
- Check existing restorations
- Look at your gums for early signs of gum disease – this will be done using a probe which is gently placed between the tooth and your gum to determine the stage of gum disease
- Examine your tongue, throat, cheeks & lips for signs of oral cancer
- Examine jaw joint evaluation
X-rays of your teeth are usually taken every two to three years, unless your dentist notices a problem and needs an X-ray to look inside the tooth.
If cavities are found or your dentist feels that your oral hygiene needs to be improved, he will create a treatment plan outlining the work to be carried out and the costing; you will then need to make an appointment for the necessary treatment.
Occasionally, patients are referred to other dentists who specialise in the relevant fields of dentistry.