Your gum health relies on your oral hygiene. Keeping your teeth clean and clear of plaque will protect your gums from bacteria, preventing gum disease from causing an issue. Regular interdental cleaning, such as flossing, on top of a good brushing technique, will keep on top of most of the plaque that forms on your teeth.
Plaque that’s hard to reach forms tartar over time, a dark substance that can’t be removed with a toothbrush. Hygienists can remove tartar deposits around the gum line with a thorough clean, called a scale and polish, leaving your teeth and gums bacteria-free.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease starts as a reaction from your immune system to bacteria present in plaque near your gum tissue. As a result, the gums become inflamed, leading to bleeding when brushing. This stage is called gingivitis and can be reversed through appointments with the hygienist.
If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more aggressive stage and this can be a real problem. Periodontitis occurs when bacteria enters the gum tissue and causes the gums to break down as an immune system response. The gums begin to recede, forming pockets between the gum and the tooth. Eventually, the jawbone becomes degraded and tooth loss is likely.
Even at the later stage, gum disease often has very mild symptoms which is why it’s often left untreated. Periodontitis isn’t curable but can be controlled through specialist periodontal treatment.
What’s involved in a hygiene appointment?
Hygienists are clinicians trained in diagnosing and treating gum disease. At the start of the appointment, the hygienist will carry out a full assessment of your gums, checking for any inflammation and bleeding.
The main part of the appointment is the scale and polish, a very thorough clean that involves using a focused jet of water to loosen tartar deposits before using special tools to scale the deposits away. Lastly, a paste is used to polish the surfaces and leave the teeth feeling silky and smooth.