What is Gingivitis?
Being one of the most common problems that we see as dental professionals, gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria that we naturally have in our mouths.
After consuming any form of food or drink, a thin soft film called plaque builds up around the junction between the gums and the teeth. If not cleaned properly, the bacteria in this film can irritate the gums. The body responds by bleeding in order to bring up the blood cells necessary to fight the bacteria.
The condition at this stage is reversible by mechanically brushing away the plaque. If left untreated, the saliva combines with the plaque making a harder, rougher limescale type of debris which sticks onto the tooth, called calculus or tartar. This is impossible to clean with a toothbrush meaning the gums will become even more irritated causing them to shift away from the tooth. This is called gum recession and may bring about tooth sensitivity. Because of its rough nature, various food and drink stains will adhere to it giving your teeth a brown colour.
Eventually, in susceptible individuals, the calculus bacteria will start to irritate the bone surrounding the tooth, causing it to become lose. This is called Periodontitis, or gum disease.
Who can get gingivitis?
Anyone can have gingivitis if the plaque or calculus is not thoroughly cleaned away from the teeth.
How do I know if I have gingivitis?
The most common signs of gingivitis include:
⦁ Bleeding gums
⦁ Bad breath
⦁ Tooth sensitivity
⦁ Stained teeth
In some individuals, for example in smokers, some of the signs are not as visible. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict (become smaller) meaning that it will mask the amount of inflammation actually surrounding the teeth. Similarly, when a smoker stops the habit, they will notice more bleeding than usual around the gums. This should not alarm you. You should see our hygienist for more advice on how to tackle this.
How do we treat it?
Brushing meticulously around the gum-tooth junction will remove the plaque and therefore stop the gums from bleeding. Using other cleaning aids like floss or interdental brushes will also remove the debris from in between the teeth.
If the plaque has become calculus this will need professional cleaning by a hygienist.
What is a hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a healthcare professional who is trained to help keep your gums healthy by cleaning away the calculus and plaque around the tooth-gum junction. They can also use a ‘jet polish’ to remove the extrinsic stains from the teeth, giving you back your pearly white smile.
Finally, they will then give you advice on preventing plaque from building up in the first place. Every person is different which means that the oral hygiene advice should be tailored around the individual. At K Dental Studios our hygienist Meranda, will spend just as much time customising your routine as she will do cleaning the teeth. This is because we feel that prevention is the most important aspect of your care with us. Improving your plaque control means fewer visits to the dentist and hygienist….. which is our ultimate goal.
Do I need to see the hygienist?
Even if you are very good at cleaning the plaque away from your teeth, there will always be some areas which are harder to reach. The hygienist will tailor their cleaning around the most in need areas and may spend more time around certain areas. Likewise, they may need to tweak your home hygiene technique so that the next time you come in to see them there is even less calculus to remove. This, in the long term will mean less bleeding, less sensitivity and fresher breath.
If you don’t believe us, do the ‘pink is not your colour’ test. Next time you visit us ask for plaque disclosing tablets. Brush your teeth before chewing the tablet. Pink stains will show up in areas where you have not brushed well. Using a disclosing tablet and cleaning away all the pink stains will help remove more of the plaque build-up.
If you think you would benefit from seeing our hygienist contact us on 02076378484 on click here to find out more information.