Patients who suffer from gum disease may need more intensive treatment following a regular check-up with a hygienist. Gum disease can become more severe during pregnancy, meaning it's crucial that pregnant women arrange more regular visits throughout their pregnancy. Evidence has linked gum disease with heart disease and low birth weight in newborn babies.

What is a hygienist?

Dental hygienists work with your dentist to give advice and care in the area of oral health. Your hygienist will offer instructions for your oral care based on the results of your dental exam. Making improvements to your daily routine as well as arranging regular check-ups with your dentist can help prevent gum disease. They can also offer advice in other areas such as diet, bad breath and smoking cessation.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (periodontitis) is a leading cause of tooth loss and is prevalent in up to 90% of the population to some degree. Gum disease occurs when bacteria on the teeth and around the gums begin to cause a deterioration of the gum tissues and supporting structures of the teeth. The teeth are attached to the bone by fibres in the periodontal ligament, which in turn is protected by the gum. Severe gum disease can destroy the gum, the periodontal ligament and eventually lead to tooth loss. As plaque builds up around the teeth, hard deposits (known as tartar) can cause inflammation and bleeding of the gum tissues. The gum becomes looser around the teeth, allowing plaque, tartar and bacteria to build up beneath the gum to form pockets, which attack the periodontal ligament and bone which support the tooth. Some people are more susceptible to gum disease than others, with it being more difficult to treat in smokers. 

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How do I know if I have gum disease?

Obvious signs to look out for are bleeding gums, bad breath and discomfort. At a more advanced stage, gum disease can cause teeth to feel quite loose. More often than not, people are unaware that they have gum disease and it may only be detected at a dental examination. This is why regular dental appointments are so important as gum disease can be detected and treated early.

How can gum disease be treated?

Treatment of gum disease involves a dentist or hygienist cleaning tartar build ups from around the teeth and gums. This enables the pockets to heal and the gum to become healthy.This initial treatment can help control gum disease, but it is vital to keep your gums in a healthy condition by using a good tooth brushing technique twice a day and rinse with mouthwash. Arranging regular check-ups with your hygienist every 6 months will help maintain a healthy gum.