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What is a dental hygienist?

Dental HygieneDental hygienists are specially trained to work as part of the dental team, to give care to patients. They play an important part in dental health care and are mainly concerned with preventive dental health and treating gum disease – showing you correct home care and helping to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

They will carefully remove the hard deposits of tartar (or ‘calculus’) that build up on the teeth and teach you how to prevent them coming back. This will do a lot to slow the progress of periodontal disease.

By talking to you about your diet, and recommending other preventive measures, the hygienist can help you keep to a routine that will slow down tooth decay and prevent staining and halitosis (bad breath). Regular visits and advice will help build your confidence in keeping your mouth healthy and teeth looking good.

Why is this dental treatment important now that I have dental implants?

Regular professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar around the dental implant(s), is essential to maintain healthy tissues around the implant(s) for the long term. It will also help to prevent unwanted complications around the dental implants such as peri-implantitis.

What is Peri-Implantitis?

Peri-implantitis is a destructive inflammatory process affecting the soft and hard tissues surrounding dental implants. The disease destroys the healthy gum attachment to the implant restoration, leading to gum infection, gum recession and bone loss around the implant. If left un-treated the disease can lead to failure of a dental implant(s).

To book your appointment with our Hygienist please send us a message or call us on 01823 462550

Dental Hygiene Services.

What is Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)?

Gum disease is a condition which results in inflammation of the gums as well as the ligaments and bone keeping the teeth secure in the jaws.

What causes gum disease?

Plaque.

Plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria, food debris and shed cells from the mouth, this is attracted to any hard surface in the mouth. It is difficult to see initially as it is tooth coloured, as the film grows and gets thicker it is seen as a creamy, yellow layer coating the teeth especially around the gum line.

If allowed to build up on the teeth and around the gum line the bacteria causes the gums to become inflamed. They appear red, glossy,puffy and you may notice they bleed easily when brushing/flossing or even eating!

At this stage the true name for this type of gum disease is Gingivitis, literally meaning inflammation of the gums.

At this early stage gingivitis is easily treated by improved oral hygiene and often the removal of hardened plaque (Tartar) by a Hygienist/Dentist.

What happens if Gingivitis is not resolved?

 The inflammation can and often does, spread to the tissues supporting the teeth; the ligaments and bone.

When the inflammation starts to cause destruction of these tissues it is called Periodontitis, literally meaning inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth this also includes the gums.

What are the signs and symptoms of Periodontitis?

In addition to bleeding gums, you may notice the gums are not closely attached to the teeth, these areas are known as pockets. The irritated gum moves away from the tooth allowing a ‘pocket’ to form, this pocket becomes filled with plaque and a vicious cycle occurs.

You may notice hard tartar forming around the gum line, in between the teeth and in the pockets.

As the pockets and disease progress gum recession becomes noticeable and the roots of the teeth begin to be exposed, this may result in sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet things.

An unpleasant odour may be noticed and in the advanced stages of periodontitis the teeth may become loose and drift out of their previous position and pus may appear from the pockets. When the disease reaches such an advanced stage some teeth may not be savable and will either ex foliate or more commonly require extraction.

Is there treatment for Periodontitis?

Yes.

Initially an appointment with the Dentist is required for diagnosis and some information on the stage of the disease, you will then be advised to see the Dental Hygienist and in some cases referred to a Periodontist (specialist).

It should be noted that the more advanced periodontitis is prior to treatment the more difficult it is to stabilise the disease.

A typical treatment plan for Periodontitis:

Initial 1 Hour appointment with the Hygienist for oral hygiene assessment and intensive oral hygiene instruction so please bring along your current toothbrush and any other aids you use to clean your teeth.

A full mouth pocket chart, this involves measuring the pocket depths in milimetres which have developed and recording along with sites that bleed, areas of pus, gum recession and any mobility of the teeth. This chart is a base chart that will be compared to a similar chart taken following treatment.

A  basic clean to remove large areas of tartar to assist in improving oral hygiene and reduce bleeding will also be carried out at this initial appointment.

Depending upon the severity of the disease following the charting, appointments will be made to thoroughly clean the tartar from the teeth both above and below the gum line which may require the use of local anaesthetic.

The mouth is cleaned in sections, do not expect the whole mouth to be completed in one visit, full tartar removal in periodontitis is time consuming especially if the disease is advanced.

A combination of methods is used to remove tartar from the teeth. A mechanical instrument called an ultrasonic scaler uses vibration with water to break up the larger deposits and flush out the pockets. Hand instruments are then used to remove the finer deposits and check for a smooth root surface.

At each appointment your level of oral hygiene must be assessed. It is your responsibility to thoroughly clean the mouth twice daily as you will have been instructed to remove the developing plaque. Unless this is done effectively the success of treatment is limited as it is the bacteria in the plaque which cause all the damage!

Following treatment a period of 8-12 weeks passes before another appointment with the Hygienist to allow the pockets to heal, reduce in depth and stop bleeding. A sign of successful treatment is you may notice increased gum recession. This is because the reduced inflammation causes the gums to shrink tighter on to the teeth

The charts are repeated and compared, depending upon the severity of the disease as previously mentioned some areas may require regular deep cleaning or surgical intervention with a periodontist.

A maintenance programme will be suggested usually to return at 3 or 4 month intervals to the Hygienist to maintain the mouth in health by regularly scaling and checking oral hygiene. Gum disease needs constant work to keep it stable.

Maximum success occurs when the disease is treated before it is too severe, when the pockets are shallow and when the individual carries out meticulous oral hygiene, does not smoke and eats a balanced healthy diet.