Screening for gum disease forms an integral part of your routine examination. Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth.

Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning.

Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.

All gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing.

Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole so that you do not notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses, and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more difficult.

The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.

The hygienist/therapist has been specially trained to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth. This is achieved with the use of instruments called hand scalers or ultrasonic scalers , after which teeth are polished to a very smooth and shiny finish. The hygienist will give you comprehensive advice on oral hygiene and aids that you may need to maintain healthy mouth.

You may sometimes require special drugs and mouthwashes to help to reduce infection and these will be prescribed where required. Air polishing is also available to get rid of stubborn stains caused by smoking, red wine, tea and coffee.

A fissure sealant is a safe and painless way of protecting teeth from decay. Traditionally used for children, a sealant is a plastic coating applied to the biting surfaces of back teeth to stop decay starting in the tiny grooves. Liquid sealant is applied to the surface of the tooth and set with a special light.