Do I need to see a hygienist? Rescue your teeth by saving your gums
Periodontal (Gum) Care
Your gums are the foundation that support your teeth in their position and contribute to your functional needs as well. Without healthy gums, this foundation is lost and the effects on your oral health can be suboptimal. However, early treatment is the best chance of reversing the damage caused by gum disease or gingivitis.
Symptoms of Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis is often the first detectable form of gum disease that your dental hygienist or dentist can pick up and the damage can usually be reversed. If left untreated it will develop into the next stage which is called Periodontitis (Gum Disease). The damage caused by Periodontitis cannot be reversed, although we can stop it from progressing. This occurs when plaque and calculus (hardened plaque) is left to build up around the teeth and gums. The gums surrounding the teeth become inflamed in response to this irritation.
Due to the importance of early detection, it is very important that you seek the advice of your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Swollen, red or puffy gums
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath or a sour taste in your mouth
- A noticeable elongation of the teeth or recession of the gums
There are also other factors that can contribute to gum disease:
- Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are at risk of developing gum disease
- Patients who smoke have a history of smoking
How can Gingivitis and/or Periodontitis be treated?
Gingivitis is reversible and is treated by removing the calculus and plaque that has irritated the gums; our hygienists will remove this as well as going over importance oral hygiene advice tailored to your individual needs to help reduce the risk of re-occurrence. The treatment results for patients with gingivitis are very good and can be maintained if you follow a good home care plan and continue with regular maintenance appointments.
The treatment for periodontitis depends on its severity. Mild to moderate stage may be treated effectively by scaling, root planning and a very strict home care program. Advanced stages or unresponsive localized areas may require other advanced treatments such as surgical intervention which is carried out by a gum specialist (Periodontist). Similar to gingivitis, periodontitis can reoccur if good homecare and regular hygiene appointments are not maintained.
The role of the Dental Hygienist
- To evaluate and assess gingival (gums) supporting structures and teeth
- To review medical history and x-ray results
- To perform oral screening for abnormal lesions including head and neck examination
- To perform scaling/polishing of teeth
- Teeth whitening
- Guide patients through individualised oral hygiene instruction
- To advise on dietary influences particularly pertaining to dental disease
- To apply preventative agents to teeth and gums (eg. Fluorides) to prevent decay and periodontal (gum disease)
It is imperative that patients with uncontrolled oral hygiene or extensive gum disease receive regular dental hygiene treatment to ensure that all deposits are removed regularly; this will result in healthy gums and teeth. These maintenance appointments will be tailored to the individual needs of the patient, your dental hygienist or dentist will recommend which maintenance interval best suits your current needs.