Gum disease is a very common issue that can have grave consequences for your oral and systemic health. That is why the team at Sensational Smiles in Sutton offers novel gum disease treatments to help restore your gums back to health. Below, we explain how to spot gum disease and how to treat it.
What causes gum disease?
After eating, if the food you have consumed is not cleaned thoroughly from your mouth, residues and sugars are left on your teeth. Bacteria feed of these residues and form colonies on your teeth and gums. This is called plaque and is the cause of gum disease. The bacteria then damage your teeth, gums, and the bone that supports your teeth.
If left untreated, gum disease will eventually lead to tooth loss. In fact, it is the leading cause of tooth loss today. So, when you see someone who has lost all their teeth, it is probably due to gum disease..
How do you treat gum disease?
The answer to this is very simple. You can treat gum disease by removing dental plaque effectively on a consistent, daily basis. When plaque levels build up, your dental hygienist will be able to help by removing it using professional cleaning methods.
Now, this sounds easy but, it takes a lot of effort to get it right.
The traditional plaque removal method
Most hygienists remove plaque by using a series of hand scalers, ultrasonic scalers, and a rubber/abrasive cup. This is a very tedious and time-consuming way of removing plaque, and newer, better methods for plaque removal can deliver better outcomes and is the biggest differentiator between a fantastic hygienist and an average one.
Step 1 – disclosing dye
The problem with plaque is that it is invisible to the naked eye so if you are a hygienist, it is difficult to know exactly where and how you need to clean someone’s teeth.
Now, I bet you’re thinking that you can definitely see stuff on your teeth that needs to be removed. Well, that is probably calculus, which is plaque that has hardened over time. The calcium and minerals in your saliva calcify the soft plaque and turn it hard. Those are the big deposits you may see on your teeth. These are actually not that harmful—it is the soft plaque that is the worst. However, we still don’t like calculus because it is rough and it does a good job attracting plaque, which is why we aim to remove it as well.
So, if you can’t see it, how is your hygienist supposed to clean it? Well, the best thing to do is to use disclosing dye. This colourful dye stains plaque, meaning that the hygienist now has something to target. The purple colouration as shown in the image below highlights where the plaque is.
So, you can see how trying to clean someone’s mouth without disclosing is pretty much pointless. You have no idea what you are cleaning! If you are a hygienist, you will probably just clean the large deposits of calculus. This is OK, but it does not remove the soft plaque, which we have already established as the bad type of deposit.
Does your hygienist use disclosing dye at every visit?
The answer is probably no. It takes around 10 minutes for the hygienist to disclose and then he/she will have to remove all of the plaque. Sometimes, even in 20 minutes, you cannot remove it all because it simply takes so long. Because doing a good, thorough job is so time-consuming, it is much easier for the hygienist to turn a blind eye and only partially clean your teeth to where he/she thinks the plaque will be. If the hygienist has used disclosing dye, and if the plaque if not completely removed its very obvious to the patient because you will still be able to see stained areas.
Step 2 – clean the teeth
Traditionally, this is done by using a variety of instruments:
- Hand Scalers – this is a metal instrument that is used to scrape the plaque off teeth. This is very time-consuming and not very efficient as it’s all done manually.
- Ultrasonic Scalers – these are much quicker but can cause sensitivity.
- Polishing tools – these are used to polish the teeth.
The new, modern plaque removal method
Step 1 – identify hard deposits and remove with PIEZON®
As mentioned before, hard deposits of calculus are easy to spot with the naked eye. Our hygienist also has loupes (magnifying glasses) that she wears, which make it very easy to identify calculus.
The hygienist removes the calculus with New PIEZON® NO PAIN technology. This works in a similar way to the ultrasonic scaler. Its blasts high frequency sound waves at the calculus to disrupt it. The reason it claims to be pain-free is because it has a feedback mechanism. As soon as it detects resistance, it reduces the power, which maximises patient comfort. Water is used to cool tips as the vibrations cause it to get very hot and normally the cold water generally used on normal ultrasonic scalers can cause sensitivity too. Luckily, the state-of-the-art machine we use also warms the water to 37.5 degrees Celsius, so you do not experience sensitivity.
Step 2 – Remove the soft plaque using airflow
The airflow machine we use has been specifically designed to remove soft plaque (the dangerous deposits) quickly, efficiently, and without pain. It works by blasting air, water, and powder at the tooth and gums. It is very gentle and effective at what it does.
Note: We can usually skip the first stage, disclosing, as you will see the airflow is so good at quickly removing everything. The split mouth technique means that you are seeing the same patient – one side you use one method (traditional way) and the other side you use the modern technology (Airflow and Piezon).
As you can see, the newer method is fantastic!
Even better, it can be done in less than half the time of traditional methods resulting in less time in the dental chair and more pennies in your wallet.
So, when you compare two different prices, make sure you are comparing apples to apples, because there is a big variation between the skill set and knowledge of hygienists.
Does that mean we disclose every single patient, every time?
At our clinic, we generally only use disclosing dye if we think it will help with communication for our patients. In other words, we only use it to show you where you are missing when you brush and to give you techniques to improve your homecare. As you can see from the video above, the airflow is so good at plaque removal that it is not always necessary to disclose. You can clean the whole tooth in literally seconds.
Other benefits of the Airflow machine?
It is pain-free – It is so gentle that you won’t feel any pain.
You can clean up to 4mm underneath the gums – when you have pockets, or areas where the gum has moved away from the tooth due to bacterial action, it is impossible to clean under your gums at home. Even your hygienist can struggle to keep these areas clean. With the airflow machine, you direct it underneath the gum, and it can clean up to 4 mm beneath the gumline, so it is great for treating gum disease.
Cleaning implants – scientific data has shown that using ultrasonic scalers near implant surfaces is bad, as it can scratch them. These scratches are the perfect place for bacteria/plaque to live in and therefore can actually cause detrimental effects. Instead, the airflow machine cleans the implant surface in a gentle effective manner, leaving no scratches.
Stain removal – this method is great for cleaning stains off teeth, especially in between your teeth. See the results below. It is super quick and easy to remove stains caused by food, smoking, tea, coffee, and red wine.
Who is hygienist at Sensational Smiles?
In dental practices, there is a huge difference between the level of skill of hygienists. Itis important that you choose a hygienist who is very well trained. At Sensational Smiles, our hygienist Natasha Foster has been working for us for 4 years and she is the best I have worked with. Her attention to detail is fantastic and the success of treating patients with gum disease has improve dramatically.
How much does this all cost?
When we first started to use the machine (it was a hefty investment), we decided to charge extra to use it; however, we found that we actually wanted to use it on all our patients regardless of whether they paid extra or not. We wanted all our patients to benefit from it, so we decided to keep it free for everyone i.e., no additional charge for using it. Most dental practices will charge extra for use of the machine, but we want to be the dental practice who looks after our patients regardless of finances.
Our standard fees are:
1st Appointment – £90 (45 Minutes)
The first visit is always important. We need to diagnose, make detailed records, give you specific advice, and clean your teeth. The usual 30 minutes is not enough for all of this, which is why we have increased the time to 45 minutes for the first visit.
Additional Appointments – £65 (30 Minutes)
These are the standard routine appointments that 90% of people have:
Deep Cleaning – £180 (1 Hour)
For people with severe/advanced gum disease, we need to clean underneath the gums, which requires more time and often anaesthetic. These are generally one-off initial visits for people who need corrective therapy to cure the gum disease. Once their gums are in a healthy state, then the 30-minute routine visits are recommended.
Experience truly clean teeth by visiting Sensational Smiles. We’d love to help.