Healthy Gums

Dental Hygiene Therapy

Dental hygiene therapy is utilised to help both treat and prevent gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums only. Periodontitis (gum disease) is the destruction of the tissues that support the tooth, i.e. gums and bone. The continued progress of periodontitis leads to the eventual total loss of support of the tooth followed by loss of the tooth itself. As the disease progresses, the gums begin to separate from the teeth to form pockets, allowing the continued downward acceleration of plaque below the gumline.


Periodontitis and gingivitis are both caused by the build up of plaque and calculus (scale) on the teeth. At Harpenden Dental Centre we help patients to treat gum disease and maintain healthy gums through careful help and treatment from both the dentist and dental hygienist. The dentist assesses the extent of the problem and monitors its progress, whilst patients are referred to the dental hygienist who specialises in removing the deposits on the teeth and providing detailed oral hygiene instruction to help prevent further accumulation.

Once gum disease has been eradicated it is also important to prevent its return. Patients are therefore encouraged to visit the dental hygienist routinely for maintenance of good gum condition.

Interdental Brushing

Sonia and Monica are our Dental Hygienists at Harpenden Dental Centre. Sonia and Monica are excellent hygienists and communicators. They both have a gentle but thorough touch when providing dental hygiene treatment.

Patients that suffer from advanced periodontitis are advised to see one of our specialist periodontists. A specialist periodontist is a dentist that specialises in stabilising periodontal disease that has progressed to such an extent that hygiene therapy alone is no longer going to eradicate the disease.

At Harpenden Dental Centre we have three specialist periodontists, Monica Lee, Angela Nketia and Emiliano Zanaboni. All three are either current or past specialist clinical teachers at Guy’s Hospital, KCL.

What is gum disease (periodontitis)?

Periodontitis is a very common inflammatory condition, which affects and damages the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums and bone.
Early signs are often soreness/bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing. Other common signs can be exposure of the roots (gum recession) or drifting of the teeth.
If left untreated periodontitis ultimately leads to the loosening or loss of teeth, as the supporting bone is destroyed. Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss.

Periodontitis is caused by a build up of bacteria (dental plaque). Other factors such as smoking, family history, diabetes and stress have a significant impact on how susceptible you are to the disease. It is now understood that untreated periodontal disease can have effects on general health including diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy outcomes.

How is periodontitis treated?

A specialist periodontist is a dental practitioner who specialises in the prevention and treatment of gum disease. With careful assessment and treatment, it is normally possible to halt the progress of periodontitis. Treatment of periodontitis requires oral hygiene instruction and advice on home care followed by professional cleaning under local anaesthetic by the periodontist.

Following the initial treatment, patients are then reassessed after a few weeks to ensure the disease has resolved. If localised areas of periodontitis are found to persist, these isolated areas may require further treatment, which may include surgical corrective therapy.

Long-term success of periodontal treatment depends on both your own efforts with oral hygiene and those of the practice team who provide your regular care.
Regular follow-up appointments with your hygienist and periodontist are vitally important to ensure the disease process does not reoccur.

For more information about periodontal treatments, please feel free to contact the practice.

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