Management Of Plaque And Tartar
Bacterial build up in the mouth can lead to gum disease if not managed correctly
Alongside tooth decay, gum disease is one of the most common problems suffered by dental patients. Despite this, a lot of people aren’t really aware of the problems that gum disease can cause or how to prevent it.
Most people know that eating too much sugar is likely to result in tooth decay, but far fewer know, for example, that a dry mouth can contribute to gingivitis or periodontitis.
This is a problem as gum disease can have devastating effects on your teeth, including tooth loss. Loose teeth and other unpleasant symptoms mean that it is worth learning more about the causes of gum disease and how you can prevent and manage it. Dr Simon Stern, periodontist at Blue Sky Dental offers some advice and explanations regarding this common problem.
How does gum disease occur?
Gum disease starts when the potentially harmful bacteria in our mouth starts to grow significantly in number. We can’t eliminate these bacteria but we can help to control them. As the bacteria build up, they attach themselves to the soft gum tissue. Whilst at a lower level, we may not notice this, some of you will probably have experienced the sticky ‘gunk’ in your mouth when you wake up with a dry mouth. This is largely a collection of bacteria that has grown out of control. This is what we refer to as plaque. Some of the bacteria in our mouth will also combine with other minerals and find their way into hard to clean areas, and over time will form a hardened ‘crust’ that is almost impossible to remove using a regular toothbrush. This is known as tartar or calculus.
Whilst early symptoms of gum disease, such as bad breath and sore or inflamed gums, can be unpleasant; if it is not treated and is instead allowed to advance, it can result in periodontitis which also attacks the supporting structures of the teeth, sometimes causing them to become wobbly and loose and to even fall out. As you can see, there are very good reasons for maintaining good gum health!
What can you do?
There is a lot that you can do to prevent gum disease, though you will need to see our Chelmsford hygienist too if you want to have a really healthy mouth, but more of that a little later.
The two most important things that you can do is to brush your teeth well, making sure to angle the bristles so that they reach beneath the gum line, and to use dental floss. The second of these is something that, sadly, a lot of us don’t do in the UK. Whether people find it difficult or not, I am not sure but it really isn’t that hard and can make a big difference to your oral health. Food and bacteria get trapped between teeth and, often, a toothbrush won’t effectively reach these areas. Dental floss is a great way to remove food and bacteria from between your teeth and will not only help you to avoid gum disease but tooth decay as well. If you don’t use dental floss at the moment, please do try to use it. Our Chelmsford hygiene team will be happy to show you how to do it correctly if you find it difficult.
In addition to this, make sure to stay well hydrated and especially before you go to bed. This will help to flush away bacteria as well as preventing it from increasing too much while you sleep.
What can we do?
As mentioned above, the hygienist plays an important role in your oral health care and if you don’t currently see one, you really should reconsider. In addition to providing an educational role, helping you to improve the way that you look after your teeth by changes in lifestyle, they also carry out a non-invasive procedure known as a ‘scale and polish’. Whilst regular brushing will remove the softer plaque build up, it won’t remove tartar, the harder ‘crust’ that forms. To remove this, the hygienist will first of all gently ‘scrape’ away any excess tartar before using a sonic tool that shatters most of the remaining tartar. Finally, a high speed brush is used to thoroughly clean the teeth and gum line. Not only will this leave you with healthier gums but you will find that your teeth both look and feel fresher too. This should be done every six months at least, or more often for those at a higher risk of gum disease.
Hopefully today’s blog has helped you to understand the importance of looking after your gums as well as your teeth and that you found this information useful. We do strongly recommend that you make an appointment with our hygienist too as they will be able to clean your teeth professionally and offer a personalised gum health improvement plan. To make an appointment, please call Blue Sky Dental on 01245 211070.
Dr Simon Stern is a specialist in periodontics at Blue Sky Dental in Chelmsford – GDC number 154790.