A dental hygienist (also called oral hygienist) is a licensed dental professional who specializes in preventive oral health, typically focusing on techniques in oral hygiene.

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, especially the common dental caries and gingivitis, and bad breath. There are oral pathologic conditions in which good oral hygiene is required for healing and regeneration of the oral tissues. These conditions include: gingivitis, periodontitis, dental trauma, oral cysts and after wisdom tooth extraction.

Dr. Drew Markham has a strong belief that overall dental hygiene process of care includes the following steps:

  • Assessing the patient: This includes, but is not limited to, a full review of the patient’s medical history, necessary x-rays to be taken, a clinical exam, and a periodontal assessment by probing and exploring areas of the patient’s mouth. During this stage we will prepare a thorough report of your current oral health.
  • Dental hygiene diagnosis: Assessing of data pertaining to a client’s condition/state in terms that will help identify problems so as to lead to a professional treatment plan/therapies. The final diagnosis of disease and/or treatments solely lies with the approval granted by Dr. Drew Markham.
  • Planning: creating a sequential treatment plan for the patient. The treatment plan will vary based upon on the immediate recommendation(s).
  • Implementation: Carrying out the plan in a timely and effective manner.
  • Evaluation: Determining the effectiveness of the treatment plan that was administered.

Over a period of months or years, we will evaluate the client’s condition as necessary to alter the diagnosis and forecast the client’s health changes.

Gum disease is one of the most common dental problems adults face, but gum disease can begin at just about any age. Gum disease often develops slowly and without causing any pain. Sometimes you may not notice any signs until the disease is serious and you are in danger of losing teeth. The good news is that gum disease can almost always be prevented, if it starts, it can be treated and it can even be turned around in the early stages.

Healthy gums and bone hold teeth firmly in place. Gums attach to teeth just below the edge of the gums. Gum disease affects the attachment between gums and teeth, which all begins with plaque. Plaque is clear and sticky and contains bacteria. It forms on your teeth everyday where your teeth and your gums meet. If plaque is not removed everyday by good hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar.

Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Tartar can lead to infection at the point where the gums attach to the teeth. In early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums may be a bit red and bleed when you brush, puffy gums, traces of blood on your toothbrush or a change in the colour of your gums. Your gums will probably not be sore. As gingivitis gets worse, tiny pockets of infection will form.

Over time, the infection breaks down the gum tissue that attaches to the teeth. This is called “attachment loss.” At this point, you will notice swelling, bleeding or colour changes in your gums. Along with “attachment loss,” gum disease causes the bone that holds your teeth in place to break down too. If gum disease is not treated, teeth become loose and in danger of falling out.

The best way to deal with gum disease is not to get it in the first place. Protect your oral health by brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day and see your dentist regularly for an oral examination.

If gum disease is not treated, you can have gums that are always sore, red and puffy, get a painful infection (called an abscess) in the area between your teeth and gums or lose your teeth. Without enough gum tissue and bone to hold your teeth in place, they can become loose and fall out. Nobody wants to have these things happen. With regular care, they won’t.

Check your gums on a regular basis for these signs of gum disease:

  • A change in the colour of your gums
  • Gums that are red around your teeth
  • Gums that bleed every time you brush or floss
  • Bad breath that will not go away
  • Shiny, puffy or sore gums
  • Teeth that are sensitive for no reason
Most people are not aware that the health of their mouth can affect other areas of their general health and well-being. As Health Canada points out, the facts speak for themselves.

Diabetes
There is a strong link between gum disease and diabetes. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums, bones and tissues that surround and support teeth. It can be difficult to recognize in its early stages as it develops slowly without any real pain. Not only are people with diabetes more at risk for developing gum disease, but also gum disease can affect the severity of their diabetes.

Cardiovascular Disease
New research shows that there is a possible connection between gum disease and heart disease and stroke.

Respiratory Illness
The same bacteria found in plaque can also be inhaled into the lungs where they may cause an infection or aggravate any existing lung condition, especially in older adults.

Oral Cancer
Early detection of oral cancer can greatly increase the success of treatment and reduce the likelihood that the cancer would spread to other parts of the body. It is estimated that 3,400 new cases of oral cancer are diagnosed in Canada every year. The five-year survival rate for oral cancer is 63%, lower than the survival rates for prostate, melanoma or cervical cancers.

In addition, oral disease itself can be painful, cause tooth loss, chronic bad breath and affects people of all ages. To view the Health Canada publication concerning these issues, click here.

If it is time for you to improve your overall health by including a visit to the dentist, please download our New Patient forms for Dr. Drew Markham’s practice.

We look forward to helping you create a ‘vibrant smile for a healthy lifestyle’!