Gum disease is not to be confused with gingivitis. Gingivitis is a common condition where the gums become inflamed or swollen, infected or sore. Your gums may bleed when you brush. A thorough ultrasonic cleaning by your dentist will remove those deposits on your teeth that you either cannot access or cannot remove yourself. Gum disease is also known as Periodontitis (and years ago Pyorrea) If left untreated gum disease/ periodontitis results in you losing bone from around the teeth. This can eventually lead to incresased tooth mobility and tooth loss.
Gum disease is caused by a build up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance harbouring harmful bacteria that continually forms on the teeth. Gum disease progression is preventable with good oral hygiene, regular cleanings and cessation of smoking where applicable. You need to brush ALL surfaces of the teeth thoroughly twice a day. Regular flossing or using interdental brushes will help remove plaque from in between the teeth where your toothbrush can't get to. When plaque hardens it becomes impossible to remove with a toothbrush. Your dentist can remove these deposits with an ultrasonic scaler. This is why regular dental check ups and scaling and polishing the teeth are so important.
Bacteria and sugar cause tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque, which is constantly forming on your teeth, feed on the sugar and produce acid. It is these acids which destroy the tooth enamel over time.
Limit how often you consume food or drinks containing sugar. Remember there are lots of “hidden sugars” in the processed food we eat. Regularly brush and floss to reduce the bacterial flora in your mouth and use a fluoride toothpaste as fluoride makes the enamel more resistant to acid attack.
Dental x-rays expose you to a very low dose of radiation. It is equivalent to less than one day of natural background radiation or a 2 hour plane flight. We use modern cone beam technology to focus the x-ray beam and prevent any scatter. Risks from radiation exposure from all sources are added together over a lifetime. This is why the dental team move away from you during an x-ray as we are taking alot of x-rays every day.
A recent review by the EU Commissions Scientific Committee has concluded that there is no increased risk of illness from amalgam and is considered not to pose a risk. It is the mercury present in amalgam fillings that concerns people. Fish like tuna would be the main source of mercury exposure. Studies have also shown that dentists, who have far more mercury exposure than the general population have no unusual illnesses and live longer than other medical colleagues who are not exposed to mercury at work. The mercury in amalgam when mixed with other metals in the filling is rendered inert. I.e. (chemically inactive).
Yes. It is important to still see your dentist as your hormones can affect your gums and increase the chance of bleeding/swelling. Regular scaling and polishing of the teeth is important as is telling your dentist that you are pregnant as this can affect what treatment can be provided. Although there is no evidence that amalgam fillings are a health risk we wouldn't place these fillings or remove during pregnancy as a precaution. The same is true for taking x-rays unless in exceptional circumstances.