Gum Health

Why does gum health matter?

Gums are the foundation for your teeth. Keeping your gums healthy means that you are likely to keep your teeth for longer, need less dental treatment and spend less on your dental care.

If your gums are not healthy, it can cause:

  • Bleeding and bad breath
  • Early tooth loosening and tooth loss
  • Heart disease, heart attack and stroke

 

Gum disease causes tooth loss

Listen to real patients’ experiences of gum disease (periodontitis)

 

Visiting the Dental Hygienist helps you keep your gums healthy

We recommend that our patients visit the dental hygienist regularly, usually 2 to 4 times per year. Visiting the hygienist helps you to keep on top of your gum health, which prevents avoidable tooth loss and also helps you keep a healthy heart.

Your hygienist can access those areas which you cannot clean at home, which helps to keep plaque and tartar levels to a minimum.

All of our Membership Plans include regular dental hygiene appointments

 

What to expect at a hygiene appointment

Firstly, your hygienist will speak with you to get to know a bit about you, your routines at home and the current situation with your teeth and gums.

We will check the health of your gums by looking for signs of redness, bleeding and build-up of plaque and tartar. We will also take measurements of gum pockets (see below) to check for any signs of gum disease.

Then, the hygienist will spend a good while thoroughly cleaning your teeth, both above and below the gumline, especially in those less accessible areas.

Finally, they will discuss with you how you can best care for your teeth and gums at home, including bespoke advice and tips.

At your ongoing regular appointments, your hygienist will review all of these things to monitor your gum health and ensure you are achieving the best outcome in terms of improving and maintaining your gum health.

 

Cleaning well at home helps to keep your gums healthy

If you have dental implants, download our ‘Looking after your dental implants’ guide

Tips on teeth cleaning

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes to remove plaque build-up (3 minutes is better).
  • An electric toothbrush is usually more effective. We find that the most effective ranges are by Oral-B and Philips Sonicare.
  • Clean between all your teeth at least once per day. TePe interdental brushes are the most effective way to do this. Flossing is a good alternative. See the how-to videos below
  • Use a toothpaste containing at least 1400ppm fluoride to help protect the enamel. If you have sensitive teeth, sensitive toothpastes such as Sensodye or Colgate Pro-relief usually help.
  • Make sure you brush all the surfaces of the teeth, and well up onto the gumline.
  • After brushing spit out, don’t rinse. This means the protective fluoride in the toothpaste stays on the teeth for longer.
  • If you notice bleeding, don’t be put off brushing. Thorough cleaning will help to reduce bleeding over time.
  • Mouthwashes are not normally beneficial for routine use. However, we may sometimes recommend you use mouthwash for short term use or particular problems.

There is good advice on toothbrushing for children here

 

How-to videos – using floss and interdental brushes

 

The process of Gingivitis and Gum disease

Healthy gums are light pink in colour and do not bleed. Patients who have excellent dental hygiene at home, and who visit the hygienist regularly, tend to heave healthy gums.

 

gums diagram

Gingivitis means the gums are inflamed. They are usually dark pink or red in colour and may bleed. There is usually plaque or tartar on the teeth causing this.

Gingivitis can recover by keeping plaque levels down. You can achieve this by visiting the hygienist regularly, and by cleaning effectively at home.

If not addressed, gingivitis will progress to gum disease (periodontal disease)

 

Gum disease (periodontal disease) means the teeth have lost support from the gum and jawbone. The gum comes away from the tooth root and forms a pocket. There is often also redness and bleeding. Gum disease can lead to early tooth loss

We measure the depth of these pockets whenever we check your gums. <3mm is a healthy depth. >3mm is a sign of gum disease.

You are unable to clean inside deeper pockets (>3mm) at home – the toothbrush bristles cannot get down this far. This is one of the reasons why it is particularly important to see the hygienist regularly – to have these pockets cleaned out.

If deeper pockets (>3mm) are not cleaned out regularly, they will get deeper over time. As gum disease advances in this way, teeth start to come loose and eventually can be lost.

 

If you have gum disease, our main aim is to stop it from getting worse. Gum pockets wouldn’t normally recover over time, and loose teeth would not normally tighten up.

We can usually be happy with the situation if:

  • Gum pocket depths are stable
  • There is minimal redness or bleeding from the gums
  • There is minimal plaque and tartar build up, because you are cleaning well at home.