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By Dr. Jaye Jelley, BDS (Birm) 2008, GDC Number – 6280

Oral hygiene refers to the health of both your mouth and gums. 

Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss your teeth? Have you become worried about bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth? Do you have pain or sensitivity in your teeth or gums? Are your gums red and swollen? Are any of your teeth loose? Do you have difficulty chewing? 

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, it would be advisable for you to seek advice from a dental health professional to have a full clinical examination and assessment.  

Your oral health is incredibly important for the longevity of your own teeth. Having good oral health will enable you to eat, speak properly and feel good about yourself. Poor oral hygiene can also lead to periodontal disease. 


During any dental or hygiene appointment your clinician should probe the gums to screen the mouth for any problem areas. A Basic Periodontal Examination (BPE) probe is used to identify these areas. 

The BPE scale is from 0 to 4, and a score of 0 would indicate that no treatment is required. A score of 4 would reveal that x-rays would be needed as well as a detailed 6-point pocket chart on every tooth within that area. The x-ray would provide the clinician with the degree of bone loss as a percentage measurement, the type of bone loss, horizontal or angular as well as furcation involvement. The x-ray may also highlight noticeable calculus deposits, whether there are widened periodontal ligaments, overhanging restorations and any other pathology. 

Risk Factors 

There are a number of factors that can put you at risk of periodontal disease. Dental issues that can prove to be a risk are overhanging fillings, poor dental treatment, the use of removable partial dentures, and calculus. Other risks can include overcrowding in the mouth. 

Smoking is one of the most important risk factors for periodontitis, due to a reduction in gingival blood flow, impaired white cell function, longer healing times and enhanced tissue breakdown. At present the long-term effects of e-cigarettes on gum disease are not known. 

Poorly controlled diabetes may also increase the risk of periodontal disease. Once the gum disease is controlled, diabetic control must also be improved for long-term health. There is a known link between cardiovascular disease and periodontitis.  

Other risk factors can include age, stress, hormones and genetic predilection. Often pregnant women suffer from perio problems due to a change in their hormone levels. 

Reducing Risk  

In between your regular check-ups with your dentist there are a number of steps you can follow to reduce the risk of developing gum disease. These include, but are not limited to, the following. 

What can you do at home to avoid dental hygiene problems?  

1. Brush your “gums” twice a day, with an electric toothbrush. 

2. Place the toothbrush head at 45 degrees to the tooth and gum junction, and utilise a small circular action. 

3. It is advised to change your toothbrush every three months. 

4. Avoid snacking between meals. 

5. Use products which contain fluoride. 

6. Never use a mouthwash.

7. Interdentally clean twice a day with little brushes or floss.

8. Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly.


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