Dental Hygiene


Dentist at work



In between regular dental checkups you can dramatically reduce the build up of plaque leading to tooth decay and keep gums at their healthiest by implementing good oral hygiene.

Advice from our hygienist Jo will give you the skills to help yourself. They will demonstrate the correct techniques and recommend good practice.


Preventative care

In between regular dental checkups you can dramatically reduce the build up of plaque leading to tooth decay and keep gums at their healthiest by implementing good oral hygiene.

Dental decay is a risk at any age.

Up to the age of 20 years, the primary type of dental decay affects the crown of the tooth, the visible part. This normally requires elimination (removal) of the decay and the filling of the resulting cavities. After the age of twenty, much of the treatment involves replacement of restorative dentistry, and this may in turn need to be replaced at 10-15 year intervals.

As we get older another type of decay can begin called "root caries". This particularly affects people who have recession of their gums, a dry mouth, alteration in their diet or suffer from certain types of disease. This type of decay can be equally as destructive to tooth substance and can be more difficult to control. It is important that whatever your age, you should have regular examinations by your dentist to prevent these problems and to have them treated; note that the problem can develop rapidly, for instance, in the time between regular examinations.

Another problem, arising from the accumulation of plaque and calculus (tartar) is the development of gum disease. If your teeth are not brushed regularly and effectively then plaque will accumulate and this in turn will affect your gums, making them red, swollen and tending to bleed.

Good tooth-brush techniques will ensure the effective removal of plaque and maintain the health of your gums. A small proportion of the population (20%) will suffer additional problems associated with the build-up of plaque resulting in the loss of supporting bone around the teeth. This condition is known as chronic inflammatory periodontal disease, previously called "pyorrhoea". It can lead to abscesses, recession of the gums, mobility and drifting of teeth, eventually leading to the loss of teeth.

Treatment is aimed at reducing or minimising further bone loss as far as is possible.

The initial course of treatment is often carried out by a dental hygienist who will reinforce good cleaning techniques and carry out both superficial and deep scaling (root planning) of the teeth. At this stage, the condition will usually be reassessed by the dentist or specialist and more complex procedures such as periodontal surgery may be advised. In certain limited areas it is possible to actually get regeneration of bone. Patients would normally be referred to a specialist for these treatments.

Effective cleaning - click here

Since proper dental hygiene is the key to preventing gum disease, let's review the tools and proper procedures to accomplish this. First and foremost, brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Since a toothbrush can only clean one tooth at a time, spend at least three minutes brushing your teeth each time. Using a soft-bristle toothbrush, angle the brush along the gum line where your teeth and gums meet. Use a back and forth brushing motion on the outside and inside of all your teeth, paying particular attention to reach all the back teeth and chewing surfaces.

Remember to brush the entire gum area as well as the surface of the tongue. Doing so will help to alleviate germ build-up and bad breath. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months. For added protection against germs, run your toothbrush through the dishwasher regularly.

The next step to maintaining proper dental hygiene is flossing.


Flossing will help enhance your brushing by removing food and plaque from between teeth and along the gum line where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing should be done once a day. To floss properly, begin with a strand about eighteen inches long. Wrap the ends of the floss around the middle finger of each hand until there is about one inch of floss between each hand. Gently manoeuvre the floss in between your teeth using a sawing motion until you reach the gum line. When you've reached the gum line, use the floss to scrape the side of each tooth in an up-and-down motion. As the floss becomes worn, use a new section of the floss that is already wrapped around your fingers. Repeat this process until the gums around each tooth have been cleaned. Follow up your home dental care with regular trips to the hygienist for professional cleaning.

Advice after extractions - click here

  • The anaesthetic typically leaves your lips, teeth and tongue feeling numb after the appointment. For this reason, you should avoid chewing for two hours following surgery, or until the numbness has completely worn off.
  • Some discomfort after the extraction is normal. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol (not aspirin), is usually sufficient. We can also give you a prescription for a stronger pain reliever, if needed.
  • DO NOT drink anything ALCOHOLIC OR SMOKE for 24 hours.
  • AVOID cycling or excessive exercise for several hours. Ideally, rest by sitting in a chair and use an extra pillow for the first night.
  • After 24 hours rinse gently with warm/hot salty water (level spoon of salt in a cup of water) and continue after meals and before bed for several days.
  • You may feel the sharp edge of a socket with your tongue and occasionally small fragments of bone may work their way out.

If excessive bleeding occurs…

  • Carry out the instructions above, making certain to avoid severe rinsing which will prevent blood clotting in the socket.
  • Use some clean linen or gauze about 1” (2.5cm) wide to make a roll 1” thick thus forming a firm pad, or use a clean handkerchief. Make a few such pads, if necessary.
  • Keep sitting up and clear the mouth of loose blood clots with a clean linen square or tissue so that you can find where the socket is bleeding. This is important.
  • Place the pad across the bleeding socket from the tongue side to the cheek side. If the socket is between two standing teeth constrict the pad to fit the space.
  • Bite firmly to compress the pad on the bleeding socket for 10-15 minutes. Do not lie down.
  • Inspect the socket and replace the pad, or use another one, if bleeding still appears from the socket.
  • If your efforts are unsuccessful after an hour or two, contact your dentist.

If you want to know more about our restorative dental procedures (implants, dentures etc) please click here for the link to Anthony Vaughan's site.

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