Gum disease is caused by leaving plaque around the gum line of the teeth. Plaque is a furry build up which harbours harmful bacteria. If the plaque is not removed by brushing or flossing the teeth the bacteria attack the gums leaving them red, inflamed and swollen. You might find that at this point when you brush your teeth the gums bleed causing some alarm. Many people stop brushing when they see this but in fact that is the worst thing to do as gum disease will advance under the gum rapidly causing more serious problems. The gum can start to pull away from the root of the tooth creating pockets in which the plaque bacteria can cause bone loss. Plaque can also calcify forming a solid on the tooth or root called calculus; some people are more prone to this than others. If there is significant bone loss around the tooth treatment options become limited and can end in extraction.
Bad breath is also caused by poor oral hygiene, as some bacteria within plaque cause sulphurous compounds which creates the bad odour.
Dental hygienists are specifically trained to carry out treatments to prevent or cure gum disease. They work on prescription from one of the dentists, who will assess your specific needs at your examination.
At your routine appointment the hygienist will discuss your current oral health regime and will give advice and guidance if improvements could be made. She will carry out a thorough scale to remove soft and hard deposits on the teeth, this can be done under local anaesthesia if needed. To finish she will polish the teeth to remove surface staining.
Between visits it is necessary for you to carry out the recommended daily oral health regime to the best of your abilities.
You will usually see the hygienist as a combined appointment with the dentist every six months. Some people though need a little bit of extra help for example if you have deep pockets around the teeth, a smoker or a disability that hinders oral care. These can be catered for by booking scalings every three months or even every two months.