The first step in the treatment of gum disease is to have tartar removed professionally by a dentist, hygiene therapist or hygienist (periotherapy). Hygiene therapists and dental hygienists are specially trained to work with dentists in providing dental health care and especially preventing disease. They will work with your dentist to provide care tailored to your needs.
Their main roles are to remove existing build ups of tartar, flush away/disrupt the Biofilm and assist you to develop the most effective routine for maintaining your own oral hygiene. This is usually pain free. However, if you do experience some discomfort the hygienist can eliminate this with the use of local anesthetic or by changing the method of periotherapy. You are more likely to experience discomfort if there has already been a lot of damage done by gum disease or if your gums are inflamed and it is therefore very important that you let the clinician know at the time so that some pain control can be given. It is very important that we remove these deposits to help you keep your gums and teeth healthy for life.
You may experience slight discomfort or sensitivity to hot and cold for a few days after treatment, especially if large deposits of tartar have been removed from below your gums. Mild analgesics will relieve this if required and your dentist or hygienist may also recommend special gels or toothpaste to minimise this.
The hygiene therapist’s most important role is to help you find the best way to keep your teeth, and the spaces between them, free of plaque buildup (Biofilm) in future. This will include:
- Twice daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste after breakfast and before sleep, for a minimum of 2 minutes each time.
- Once daily cleaning of the spaces in between your teeth as demonstrated by your dentist or hygienist.
The dentist and hygiene therapist may also suggest changes to your diet and habits (e.g. smoking) to help reduce the risks of gum disease. Occasionally, other chemical treatments may be suggested to help decrease the number of harmful bacteria present.
Periodontal disease is never “cured”. If, however, you keep up the home care you have been taught, attend regularly for checkups and cleaning and inform your dentist and hygienist of any changes in the condition of your gums, any further loss of bone should be very slow and it may stop altogether.