Gum Disease, Periodontitis and Scale & Polish treatments.
Gum disease is a very common condition, yet people are often unaware they have it. Early diagnosis can make a big difference, so it’s important you recognise the signs and know what to do about them. Spitting blood when brushing your teeth could be an early sign of gum disease.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up, on and in between, your teeth. If left unchecked, The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis”.
With gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily, Plaque will irritate the gums leading to redness and soreness. If allowed to continue, gum disease can cause serious problems. The gum may start to come away from the tooth, creating ‘pockets’ around it where even more bacteria can harbour and plaque can grow. Over time, these pockets will get deeper, the gums continue to recede and teeth can become loose.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. Gingivitis is a reversible condition, and your gums will restore quickly once the plaque is removed. It is prevented from returning by regular tooth brushing and flossing.
Periodontitis unfortunately is NOT reversible. The loss of support structures (including bone) around teeth is usually a permanent feature. This is when the bacterial plaque destroys the gums, soft tissue and eventually the bones that hold your teeth, causing them to become loose.
When periodontitis is not treated, your teeth will become loose and have to be removed and they can fall out on their own. In fact, gum disease is a main reason people lose their teeth. Once gum disease gets to this stage, it cannot be reversed. You can help to prevent it from getting any worse with the help of your dentist or hygienist and by improving the way you look after your teeth and gums.
A scale and polish is when the teeth are cleaned and is carried out by a dentist or hygienist. This can be done with an ultrasonic scaler, or by hand. The dentist or hygienist will clean around each tooth to remove any plaque and tartar. Your teeth will then be polished to remove any stains and leave your teeth feeling smooth and shiny. A shiny surface is harder for the bacteria and plaque to stick to. This is normally carried out at least every 6 months, sometimes it can be done every 3 months. Your dentist will advise you on the best regime for you to be able to maintain good oral health.
Periodontitis, however, the process is somewhat different depending on the severity and progression of the disease. In some cases of gum disease, root planing (debridement) may be required. This is a deep clean under the gums that gets rid of bacteria from the roots of your teeth. Before having the treatment, you may need to have a local anaesthetic (painkilling medication) to numb the area.
The picture above shows a build up of plaque before and after cleaning. This is what harbours bacteria, making your gums inflammed, causing the gums t lif taway from the teeth if left in situ for too long.
But all gum disease is entirely preventable with good oral health habits at home, and regular visits to the dentist.
Make sure you’re brushing twice a day with whichever toothbrush you prefer (gold standard is a round headed electric toothbrush but as long as you brush with something, it doesn’t really matter!), use good fluoride toothpaste and get something between each tooth at least once a day, and you’ll be on the right track. Either floss or curaprox/tepe brushes will work fine, but make sure you get sized correctly by your dental professional.
We also recommend having a scale and polish every 6 months. Your dentist will advise on a time scale, as some people build up plaque quicker than others, so you may need to be seen more regularly.
Keep your teeth and gums happy! Give us a call today and get yourself an appointent.
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