By Clair Brooks
Dental hygienists are specifically trained in the treatment and prevention of gum disease. It is their field of expertise.
Gum disease is inflammation of the gums as a response to accumulation of bacteria (plaque) on the tooth surface and can occur if not removed effectively every day. Our bodies immune system is being triggered in an attempt to protect our body from the inflammation spreading.
Potentially everyone can develop gum disease if plaque is allowed to accumulate for long enough. Response rates vary from person to person so professional monitoring is useful. As dental hygienists see many cases, from past experience and knowledge of what products are available they can evaluate cleaning techniques and equipment that may work best for an individual patient.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease.
Increased blood flow to the area (bringing white blood cells specifically) will result in:
Spontaneous bleeding or bleeding during cleaning
Tenderness to pressure/touch
In contrast, healthy gums are pale pink, firm not tender and never bleed when using a toothbrush, floss or any other interdental (in between the teeth) cleaning aids.
The single biggest risk factor causing gum disease is poor control of plaque in the mouth, particularly plaque in contact with the gums. So effective cleaning (including in between the teeth) is important and needs to be done every day.
This will, in addition to your normal toothbrush, require the use of interdental aids ( f.ex small interdental brushes or floss) as the toothbrush filaments are least effective in those spaces. The hygienist can give tailored advice to the individual and the most significant thing you can do to prevent or eliminate gum disease is to clean your teeth the way you will be shown and keep appointments that have been recommended to you. As professionals they will be able to monitor, advise and support you in this highly preventitive activity.