Don’t Neglect Your Gum Health!

Politely reminding our Canterbury patients about the importance of looking after your gums

Woman flossing teethWe hope that you enjoyed our recent three part ‘a-z’ of dental terms, and in today’s blog, we return to one of the basics of good oral care. Most of us know how to look after our teeth well, and hopefully do so on a daily basis. There are still a significant number of people though who pay much less attention to their gums. This is a mistake that can not only lead to some unpleasant symptoms but can even result in tooth loss if neglected for too long.

As we approach Spring, and hopefully the gradual easing of restrictions to our lives caused by the pandemic, this seems as good a time as any to start thinking about getting back into a good routine when looking after our oral cavity. Presuming that you do already brush your teeth well, let us take a look at the whys and hows of looking after your gums.

Why gums?

Although we tend to suffer pain most when it is our teeth that are affected, this doesn’t mean that we should ignore our gums. Indeed, gums can become painful too if they become infected. They can become swollen, sore and may even bleed when we brush them. These are amongst some of the more noticeable symptoms of gum disease. You shouldn’t wait until your gums are uncomfortable. Gum disease can be ‘silent’ and you may not even be aware that you have it, especially in the early stages.

In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, halitosis is a common problem. One of the biggest concerns though is that when infection reaches an advanced stage (periodontitis), it can affect the bone in which your teeth are secured, causing teeth to become loose and wobbly and quite possibly eventually leading to tooth loss.

How to look after your gums correctly

As with keeping your teeth clean and healthy, gum care starts with brushing. This not only removes some staining and food particles but also helps to remove bacteria, especially that which becomes trapped between the tooth and the gum. In order to clean these areas effectively, it is important that you angle your toothbrush so that the bristles can reach beneath the gum line. Make sure too, not to use a worn out toothbrush. Some patients of the Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic have asked us about the effectiveness of mouthwash. It can be useful and just the swilling action alone will help to dislodge some bacteria and food. A more important addition to your daily cleaning regime though is dental floss.

We know that it is easier to use mouthwash than floss, but only flossing is really effective at removing trapped food and bacteria. It really isn’t that hard to do although it can take a little practice. The oral hygienist at our Canterbury practice will be happy to demonstrate how to do this effectively during your regular six monthly appointment.

Which brings us to ……

The dental hygienist

We imagine that several of you thought ‘but I don’t see a hygienist’ when you read the previous few lines. The reality is that if you don’t, then you really should. Seeing our hygienist is a great and inexpensive way to keep your gums and general oral cavity in good health. Although we can do much to keep our gums clean by brushing and flossing, the reality is that some bacteria, along with minerals, will collect on the teeth and just below the gum line and harden. As it does, it no longer becomes possible to remove this by standard ‘home’ methods.

In order to remove this material, known as tartar or calculus, a ‘scale and polish’ is necessary. This is a non invasive treatment that doesn’t require a local anaesthetic. It consists of three parts.

  • The excess tartar is removed using a special tool to ‘scrape’ it away. This can feel a little strange but it really isn’t uncomfortable at all.
  • A sonic implement is used which shatters the bulk of the remaining tartar from the teeth.
  • Finally, the hygienist will use a high speed brush to remove any remaining tartar from the surface of your teeth. This part of the procedure has the added bonus of removing some surface staining from your teeth, leaving you with a fresher and cleaner mouth.

The hygienist may also discuss ways in which you can improve your gum and general oral  health. Dietary and cleaning advice may be given to help you to do this.  If you follow this advice, and also maintain six monthly visits to have this treatment, you should hopefully avoid any significant gum problems.

With sunnier days ahead, why not take this opportunity to book your appointment with our local hygienist? You can do so by calling Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic on 01227 463529.