Hygiene and Gum Disease

What to expect from your dental hygiene visits

For many patients dental hygiene visits are an essential part of achieving and maintaining good oral health.

Our highly experienced dental hygienists; Jodi, Carol and Katie are dedicated to improving and maintaining the oral health of our patients. They are specially trained in the prevention and treatment of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the main cause of tooth loss in adults, and to give advice on all aspects of oral health and how this can impact upon your general health.

Our hygienists want to help you:

  • To have a clean and healthy mouth.
  • To change red and inflamed gums to healthy pink gums.
  • To stop your gums from bleeding when you brush.
  • To prevent unpleasant tastes and bad breath caused by the damaging bacteria in the mouth.
  • To prevent your teeth from becoming mobile and drifting.

What happens in a dental hygienist appointment?

Regular visits are essential to keep gums and teeth healthy. During the routine visit the hygienist will:

  • Check your medical history and ask if you have any dental problems.
  • Assess the health of your gums, by checking the appearance of your gums to see if there is any plaque or signs of inflammation (bleeding). Sometimes the hygienist may disclose your teeth to show you any areas where plaque is present. This involves putting a blue liquid on the teeth, colouring the bacteria which makes it easier for you to see the areas that you are missing when you brush.
  • Review your homecare routine.
  • Give individual oral hygiene advice.
  • Remove any hard deposits (calculus/tartar) and plaque by scaling the teeth, to re-establish a smooth cleanable surface.
  • Numb any sensitive teeth with local anaesthetic if required - a longer appointment may be needed.
  • Discuss your gum condition with you and answer any questions you have about your oral health.

The oral hygiene lesson is an invaluable element of these regular visits, since gum disease is prevented and treated not only by the treatment received at the dental surgery but by the daily oral care routine carried out at home.

New patients - your first dental hygiene visit

One of our experienced dental hygienists will carry out a thorough assessment of your gums to check for the presence and extent of gum disease. Following this she will be able to give you a personalised oral hygiene lesson and explain how gum disease develops and how this relates to you.

We follow all the current guidance and research available when recommending treatment and referrals.

Treating gum disease

Bleeding gums are a sign of active gum disease and should not be ignored. Gum disease causes damage to the bone that holds these teeth in place and premature tooth loss. Recent research has found gum disease is associated with a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis and potentially worse outcomes with COVID-19. Studies show approximately 50% of the population experience some degree of damage to the bone and surrounding tissues from gum disease, with around 10-15% presenting with more advanced forms, which can result in the loss of teeth.

Treatment falls into 6 phases:

  1. Oral hygiene instruction and improvement. Discussion of risk factors, hopefully leading to risk factor reduction (e.g. stop smoking, diabetes control, reduce stress).
  2. Professional removal of plaque and hard deposits from the teeth above the gum line to facilitate cleaning between the teeth at home.
  3. Professional removal of plaque and hard deposits from the teeth and roots of the teeth below the gum-line. Local anaesthetic can be used to make the treatment more comfortable. Multiple appointments are often required. This stage is only commenced once your homecare is optimal.
  4. Review and if the active disease has not stabilised repeat phase 3 or consider referral for specialist care. Or move to phase 5 if the disease is stable.
  5. Maintenance therapy – life long regular hygiene appointments at intervals of 3, 4 or 6 months dependent on level of disease to support home care ability/motivation.
  6. Palliative care – this stage is reached when the gum condition is beyond improving or the individual does not want any further treatment, but would prefer to avoid extractions of the teeth at the present time.

Referral to a specialist periodontist

We recommend some patients access specialist periodontal care at a referral practice/centre if their gum disease is advanced for their age or appears to be advancing quickly.

Stain removal / air polishing treatment

Our hygienists are able to offer this popular cosmetic procedure. The air polishing instrument uses a high pressure jet of air, water and carbonated particles to safely remove staining that has built up on the teeth. The treatment is comfortable and does not damage the tooth surface.

How long are the appointments?

The appointments are of varying length and will depend on what your dentist and hygienist need to help you with. Extra time is needed to give detailed oral hygiene instruction or if local anaesthetic is to be used for cleaning the teeth. We book appointments that are 25, 40 or 55 minutes long.

Will it hurt?

Scaling and polishing is usually pain free. However some people find scaling in some areas of the mouth sensitive. If you do have any discomfort the hygienist can use anaesthetic creams or solutions. If you do feel any discomfort during any dental procedure you can let us know by raising your hand, and we will be able to find a way of minimising the discomfort.

Using a desensitising toothpaste for a couple of weeks prior to your hygiene visit can help reduce potential sensitivity.

Sometimes teeth can be sensitive to cold and hot after having treatment for gum disease. This is because the removal of debris and calculus deposits from the tooth surfaces exposes previously covered tooth tissue. This can be improved by using a desensitising toothpaste and avoiding acidic drinks and foods. It is important to continue to clean the teeth thoroughly; using warm water can help.

Why doesn't the dentist do this work?

A Dental Hygienist has been specially trained to carry out this work and can spend longer with you. Our hygienists, Jodi, Carol and Katie are excellent communicators and we have seen a great improvement in the general care and health of patients’ mouths that see them regularly. Many of our patients have commented that their hygiene treatment was completed without any discomfort.

Denplan Essentials with Hygiene

We offer dental plans which help spread the cost of regular hygiene visits. See our fees for further information.

COVID-19 Update

Current guidelines require us to limit aerosol generating procedures and where an alternative treatment is possible this should be used. Ultrasonic scaling is an aerosol generating procedure, meaning fine particles of saliva may be generated. For this reason we are still avoiding ultrasonic scaling during hygiene maintenance visits at this present time. We are using hand instruments to remove the hard deposits from your teeth. Ultrasonic scaling and hand scaling give the same results for treatment and maintenance of gum disease, however, hand scaling takes longer to carry out and can feel different.
Air polishing is an aerosol generating procedure meaning that during the COVID-19 pandemic we have to take additional precautions so this can only be offered during a 40 or 55 minute privately funded appointment.