In order to keep your gums healthy you need to remove the daily build up of plaque from all the surfaces of your teeth by –
- Brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time. Ask your dentist which type of tooth brush is best for you, as many of us use brushes that are too hard or too large.
- USE INTER-DENTAL brushes as a toothbrush never reaches into the gaps between the teeth or below the gum line.
- Do not brush your teeth too hard as this can damage your gums, ask your dentist or hygienist to show you the correct technique.
- Use fluoride toothpaste.
Healthy gums are –
- Pink in colour.
- No areas of redness or inflammation.
- No bleeding when brushing or flossing.
- No tenderness or discomfort.
If the daily build up of plaque is not removed this can lead to the first stages of gum disease ‘Gingivitis’.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is caused by sticky bacteria which are known as ‘plaque’. Plaque collects in the small gaps between the gums and the teeth and if not removed by regular cleaning will multiply by feeding on sugars found in your food and drink. This can lead to –
- Bleeding when brushing or flossing.
- Soreness or discomfort.
- Gums appear red in colour, puffy or swollen.
Bleeding when tooth brushing or using inter-dental brushes is the earliest and most common sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is reversible if treated by a hygienist or by improved brushing and inter-dental techniques. However, if left untreated you will develop the later stages of gum disease, which is known as ‘Periodontal Disease’.
Periodontal Disease is the later stages of gum disease. This is when the bacteria infection under the gums progresses deeper and affects the bone and tissue supporting the tooth.
Your gums will –
- Bleed when brushing or using inter-dental brushes.
- Will be red, swollen and tender.
- Bad Breath.
- The gum will have pulled away from the tooth, this is called ‘Pocketing’.
- Pus may be seen in the pockets around the tooth.
The infection damages the tissue that connects the gum to the roots of the tooth. Once the tissue has been destroyed the gum pulls away from the tooth, this forms a pocket which bacteria thrive in. If not treated, in time the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw will dissolve, making the teeth loose and eventually the teeth will fall out.
Periodontal disease is irreversible, but you can slow down it’s progression by regular visits to the Dentist and Hygienist and by also improving your oral hygiene at home.
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in food and water which helps to strengthen teeth and prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and sugars. If fluoride is lacking from the diet, the teeth will be prone to tooth decay and cavities.
The hard outer surface of the tooth is called ‘enamel’, which contains mineral crystals. Everyday plaque bacteria and sugars in the mouth attack the enamel causing it to weaken. This process is called ‘demineralisation’. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium and phosphate from the food and water we consume and the toothpaste we use, help to strengthen the enamel. This process is called ‘remineralisation’. Fluoride speeds up the remineralisation process.
Fluoride intake is very important when teeth are developing; it can be taken into the body in two ways –
- The food and drink we consume or supplements.
- Fluoride toothpaste, mouthwashes or when applied directly to the teeth by the dentist or hygienist.
Fluoride treatments are offered to children who have a number of cavities or are at high risk of developing cavities. Adults can benefit too. Fluoride treatment is a very simple process administered by the dentist or dental hygienist which helps to prevent tooth decay.
- The teeth will be cleaned to remove any food debris, staining.
- A high concentrate fluoride foam or gel is placed into an arch shaped dental tray which is inserted over the teeth and left for the required time. Alternatively, a fluoride varnish is painted on to the tooth surface.
- Nothing should be eaten or drunk for 30 minutes after the treatment to allow the fluoride to penetrate the teeth.
Fluoride supplements are available; please speak to the dentist to see which supplement is best for you or your child.