What is Dental Hygiene?

Maintaining a clean and healthy mouth goes beyond improving your appearance – it also ensures fresh breath and contributes to overall dental well-being. At Delph Dental Practice, our regular hygiene treatments and comprehensive homecare guidance can yield significant dental advantages. Extensive research confirms that thorough cleaning techniques greatly reduce the risk of developing new cavities, requiring replacement fillings, experiencing gum recession, and encountering various dental issues and conditions.

Why is the treatment so important?

We prioritise the treatment of bleeding gums and other gum problems as they are important indicators of oral health. Hygiene therapy plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing serious medical conditions associated with gum disease. It is surprising to learn that about 90 percent of individuals experience gum disease at some point in their lives. However, with proper dental care, these risks can be effectively managed.

By instilling effective brushing techniques in children from an early age, they can carry these skills into adulthood. We provide preventative education and guidance to parents, demonstrating how to set an example in oral hygiene practices at home. Our comprehensive dental care services aim to maintain healthy mouths, free from tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, hygiene therapy plays a significant role in preventing and treating bad breath.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, encompasses swelling, soreness, or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two primary forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis can be resolved through improved cleaning practices and proper oral hygiene.

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How to spot gum disease

Gum disease, when left untreated, can have detrimental effects on the tissues that support the teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss. It is the primary cause of tooth loss among adults.

A considerable portion of adults experiences some form of gum disease. Certain conditions, such as smoking and diabetes, can increase susceptibility to gum disease and its more aggressive forms.

It's important to be aware of the following tell-tale signs:

  • Swollen or inflamed gums

  • Gum tenderness or sensitivity

  • Gums that easily bleed during brushing or flossing

  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth

  • Receding gums or teeth appearing longer than before

If you notice any of these signs, it is crucial to seek professional dental care to prevent further progression of gum disease and maintain optimal oral health.

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Hygiene Treatment FAQs

What is mouth cancer?

While cancer is commonly associated with areas like the lungs or breasts, it's important to recognize that it can also manifest in the mouth, impacting various structures such as the lips, tongue, cheeks, and throat. Oral cancer is a serious condition that requires attention and prompt diagnosis for effective treatment.

Do people die from mouth cancer?

Yes. Nearly 2,000 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was diagnosed early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those having cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.

What can cause mouth cancer?

Tobacco and alcohol consumption are major factors associated with the development of mouth cancer. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes is prevalent in many regions, while certain cultural practices such as chewing tobacco, betel quid, gutkha, and paan pose significant risks. Alcohol consumption further increases the likelihood of mouth cancer, and when combined with tobacco use, the risk becomes even greater. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can also heighten the risk of lip cancer. Recent studies have also linked mouth cancer to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is primarily responsible for cervical cancer and affects the moist areas of the body. HPV can be transmitted through oral sex, and emerging research suggests that it could become a leading cause of mouth cancer, rivaling the impact of smoking and alcohol. Practicing safe sex and limiting sexual partners can help reduce the risk of HPV transmission. HPV vaccines are now available for both girls and boys, initially developed to combat cervical cancer but expected to contribute to the reduction of mouth cancer rates as well. These vaccines are typically administered at ages 12 to 13 before the onset of sexual activity.

What are the signs of mouth cancer?

Mouth cancer can manifest in various forms and impact different areas such as the mouth, tongue, and lips. One common indication is a painless mouth ulcer that fails to heal normally. Additionally, a white or red patch in the mouth may progress into cancerous tissue. Pay attention to any unusual lumps in the mouth or jaw region and persistent hoarseness. If these symptoms persist for more than three weeks, it is crucial to seek the assistance of your dental team or doctor. It is advisable to undergo a check-up even if you are unsure to ensure early detection and timely treatment if necessary.

How can mouth cancer be detected early?

Early detection of mouth cancer is frequently possible through a comprehensive oral examination conducted by your dental team. Diagnosing mouth cancer in its early stages significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. Unfortunately, many individuals with mouth cancer seek dental or medical assistance when the condition has already advanced. It is crucial to visit your dentist or doctor in a timely manner to enhance the likelihood of a positive outcome and improve the prognosis.

Is there anything I can do at home?

Stay vigilant and actively monitor the condition of your mouth. Conduct regular self-examinations to identify any abnormalities. If you notice any concerning signs such as mouth ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, unusual red or white patches, lumps in your neck or jaw area, or persistent hoarseness, it is important to promptly seek an examination by your dental team or doctor. While these symptoms may not necessarily indicate a serious issue, early detection and diagnosis can be lifesaving. Don't hesitate to prioritise your oral health and well-being by seeking professional evaluation in a timely manner.

What is involved in a full check-up of the mouth?

During a routine dental check-up, your dental team will thoroughly examine the inside of your mouth and your tongue using a small mirror. They will also assess your neck and the area beneath your jaw. It's important to remember that your dental team has the expertise to observe parts of your mouth that may be difficult for you to see on your own. This comprehensive examination plays a crucial role in maintaining your oral health and detecting any potential issues early on. By attending regular check-ups, you can benefit from the professional insights and care provided by your dental team.

What happens if my dentist finds a problem?

If your dental team discovers something unusual during the examination, they may refer you to a hospital consultant for further evaluation. The consultant will conduct a thorough examination of your mouth and throat to gather more information. In some cases, a small sample of cells from the affected area (biopsy) may be taken and examined under a microscope to determine the nature of the problem.If the biopsy reveals cancerous cells, additional tests will be conducted to assess your overall health.

These tests may include health checks, blood tests, x-rays, or scans. The results of these tests will help determine the appropriate course of treatment for your condition. It is important to follow the recommended diagnostic procedures to ensure an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Can mouth cancer be cured?

Early detection of mouth cancer significantly increases the chances of a successful cure. The size of the affected area or ulcer also plays a role in the prognosis, with smaller areas having a better chance of a cure. Unfortunately, many individuals seek medical attention for mouth cancer at later stages due to a lack of regular mouth examinations. It is crucial to prioritize routine mouth examinations to ensure timely detection and improve the likelihood of a positive outcome.

How can I make sure that my mouth stays healthy?

Quit smoking and reduce alcohol consumption to improve your oral and overall health. Adopt a balanced and nutritious diet, including a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, as it can also contribute to cancer prevention. Make regular visits to your dental team, following their recommended frequency, to ensure proper oral care and early detection of any potential issues. Taking these proactive steps will support your well-being and reduce the risk of various cancers.

What are mouth ulcers?

Ulcers are painful lesions that manifest within the oral cavity and are typically characterized by a red or yellowish coloration. It is important to distinguish them from cold sores, which emerge on the outer lips and are triggered by a viral infection.

What are the common causes of mouth ulcers?

In most cases, a solitary mouth ulcer is a result of self-inflicted injury from biting the cheek or tongue, sharp teeth, aggressive brushing, or ill-fitting dentures. Such ulcers are commonly referred to as "traumatic" ulcers. However, when multiple mouth ulcers occur and recur periodically, the condition is known as "recurrent aphthous stomatitis."

How do I know if I have a traumatic ulcer?

Traumatic ulcers typically occur as isolated sores located near the site of injury and tend to resolve once the underlying cause is eliminated.

What are the signs of recurrent aphthous stomatitis?

Recurrent aphthous stomatitis is a frequent occurrence characterized by the repeated appearance of mouth ulcers in otherwise healthy children and young individuals. The exact cause of this condition remains unknown, and it is not contagious or likely to be inherited.

Are there different types of recurrent mouth ulcers?

Different types of mouth ulcers: -

  • The most common type of ulcers are minor ulcers, which can manifest inside the cheeks, on the lips, tongue, and gums. In rare cases, they may also appear on the roof of the mouth. Typically, these ulcers are small, similar in size to the top of a pencil, and occasionally occur in clusters. It is possible to experience four to six ulcers simultaneously.

  • Severe ulcers, known as large ulcers, require more time to heal compared to minor ulcers. If an ulcer persists for more than three weeks, it is important to have it examined by your dentist. Large ulcers can be particularly painful, especially during swallowing, and tend to appear near the tonsils. Typically, these types of ulcers occur individually rather than in clusters.

  • Additionally, there is a rare occurrence where individuals may experience a larger number of very small and painful ulcers, ranging up to 100 in total, which typically last for one to two weeks. It is important to note that these two variants of ulcers are uncommon. In some cases, ulcers may also develop in other areas of the body such as the eyes or genital area. If you experience ulcers in these locations, it is essential to inform your dental team about these symptoms.

What are the less common causes of mouth ulcers?

Infections can cause mouth ulcers. Herpes simplex often causes mouth ulcers in children and some adults. Other less common viral and bacterial infections may cause mouth ulcers, but this is rare. Mouth ulcers can be caused by anaemia and occasionally by other blood disorders, and some skin or gastrointestinal diseases. Sometimes the mouth ulcers are the only sign of an underlying disease.

Can cancer cause mouth ulcers?

Mouth cancer can initially manifest as a persistent mouth ulcer. Unlike other types of ulcers, those caused by mouth cancer are typically solitary and have a prolonged duration without an apparent local cause, such as a sharp tooth. It is crucial to seek dental examination if an ulcer persists for more than three weeks. Cancer-related ulcers commonly appear on or beneath the tongue, although they can occasionally occur in other areas of the mouth as well. Heavy smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are often associated with oral cancer, and the risk significantly escalates when both habits are combined.

Can I catch mouth ulcers?

Mouth ulcers are not contagious and cannot be transmitted through activities like kissing or sharing drinks and utensils.

What types of treatment are there for mouth ulcers?

The treatment depends on the cause of the ulcers. Sometimes all that is needed is for a sharp tooth to be smoothed down or a denture adjusted, although some patients may need mouthwashes or tablets.

What should I do if I think I have mouth ulcers?

If an ulcer persists for a duration exceeding three weeks, it is advisable to seek advice from your dental team or doctor. They can assess the cause, offer appropriate treatment, conduct further tests if necessary, or refer you to a specialist.

How can I prevent mouth ulcers?

You may be able to reduce the risk of mouth ulcers by keeping your mouth as clean and healthy as possible, using high-quality toothbrushes (to reduce the risk of damage to your mouth), eating a good diet which is rich in vitamins A, C and E, and includes foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables (to lessen the risk of mouth cancer) and regularly visiting your dentist.

Should I worry about my ulcers?

The majority of ulcers typically heal on their own. However, if an ulcer persists beyond three weeks, it is advisable to schedule a visit to your dentist. Your dental team will thoroughly examine your mouth to confirm the nature of the issue, ensuring it is not a more serious condition like mouth cancer. If you experience recurring ulcers, it is recommended to consult your dental team to rule out any underlying medical causes.

Always see your dental team or doctor if the ulcer lasts for more than 3 weeks, you are unwell, or the ulcers keep coming back.