A Plaque is a sticky film that harbors bacteria around the base of the tooth and under the gum and plaque buildup causes gum disease. You can remove most plaque by practicing good dental habits daily, however, even good dental habits (brushing twice a day and flossing) cannot always remove all of the plaque and only a professional cleaning by a Hygienist or a Dentist can remove it.
Gum disease is one of the more severe consequences of poor dental health. Left untreated, gum disease causes infections that lead to sore and bleeding gums and possible tooth loss.
In addition, infections associated with gum disease can travel to other parts of the body (the heart, for example) and cause health problems.
The first sign of gum disease is usually a condition called gingivitis. This is a mild form of gum disease, but a signal that your gums’ health needs immediate attention.
Gingivitis may make its presence known through swollen or red gums, bleeding gums, a change in color of gums and receding gums. If you follow good dental habits, the Dentist or Hygienist will spot these warning signs and take action. However, if you notice unusual changes in your gums, contact the Dentist for advice.
Left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more serious gum disease, a serious infection that attacks the gums and bone sockets of your teeth: periodontitis.
The symptoms of periodontitis are similar to gingivitis. In addition, look for changes in the spaces between your teeth, bad taste or bad breath, loose teeth or pus around your teeth and gums. The sooner the Dentist catches the problem, the easier treatment may be.
The best treatment for periodontitis is prevention. If you practice good dental hygiene and have regular visits with the Dentist and Hygienist for examinations and cleanings, you can reduce the chances of periodontitis significantly.
The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education recommends that a dentist or hygienist perform a dental cleaning every six months. During a dental cleaning, you’ll receive diagnostic and preventive services from the dentist as well as any needed educational information.
Diagnostic services may include:
- Reviewing and updating medical history, including information about heart problems, pregnancy, diabetes and medications, which may have an impact on your oral health
- Oral cancer examination and screening
- Evaluation of gum tissue
- Checking biting, chewing and swallowing patterns
- X-rays or examination of teeth to detect decay
- Tooth brushing and flossing instructions
- Recommendations for future treatment: when to return for follow-up hygiene treatment, periodontal (gum) concerns or restorative options
- Evaluation of self-care effectiveness