Your gums are like cushions for your teeth; they surround the tooth from its crown to its root in the jaw and help to support a healthy mouth. Looking after your gums is just as important as looking after your teeth, and without routine cleaning gum disease can occur.
Gum disease can cause bad breath. But you could still have bad breath with good oral hygiene, and healthy teeth and gums. The smell then usually comes from the far back of the tongue. It gets stronger when you talk, as your mouth gets drier.
Dental hygiene treatment is delivered by a specially trained dental hygienist who will help to remove any hard-to-reach plaque from your teeth that may have built up over time.
Scaling is the removal of hard deposits from the surfaces of the teeth. Scaling is carried out by a dentist, dental therapist or hygienist.
The bacteria in plaque feed on sugar from food and drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth surface. If this happens too often, tooth decay results.
And, if plaque is allowed to build up, the bacteria in it can cause gum disease, making your gums sore and infected.
Tartar (also known as ‘calculus’), formed by hardened plaque, helps plaque to gather and makes it harder to remove when you brush. You can’t remove tartar just by brushing your teeth, but a dentist, dental therapist or hygienist can remove it using special instruments - this is known as scaling.
A dentist, dental therapist or hygienist can also polish your teeth. This makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to your teeth.
If you clean your teeth very thoroughly at home, your scale and polish treatment will take less time.
Dental hygiene at our practice also functions preventatively to treat gum disease and bad breath. If you have a bridge, denture, orthodontic treatment or a dental implant you will have specific hygiene needs that the hygienist will be able to assist you with.
It is recommended that you come in for regular hygiene appointments to ensure your mouth stays clean and healthy.
As dental professionals we believe in preventative dental care and encourage our patients to bring their children to the practice from an early age. Regular check-ups from a young age will ensure children don't suffer from untreated dental decay with devastating effects to their growing dentition.
Acids in the mouth can dissolve away tooth surfaces. Given the chance, teeth will repair themselves, using minerals from saliva. But if acid is in the mouth too often, teeth cannot repair themselves and the hard tooth surface (the enamel) becomes thinner - this is called ‘erosion’.
The teeth can then become extra sensitive to hot and cold food and drink. Eroded teeth can also be more likely to suffer decay. The appearance of eroded teeth can also change: they can become discoloured (translucent or yellowish), and their shape can be altered.
The main cause of erosion is too frequent consumption of certain kinds of food and drink. All fizzy drinks (including ‘diet’ brands and fizzy mineral water), all ‘sports’ drinks, all squashes and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and salad dressings are examples of acidic types of food.
Some medicines are acidic and, therefore, erosive. And people with some illnesses (such as eating disorders) may suffer from erosion because of frequent vomiting, as stomach acids also erode teeth. For this reason, dentists may ask about eating disorders if they see teeth that are very badly eroded.
Your dentist can identify erosion, pinpoint the causes and advise you how to prevent further damage.