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The simplest form of gum disease is gingivitis, which with the proper dental treatment is a reversible condition. It is present in 83 per cent of adults and gets more common with age and symptoms include bleeding gums, gums that have come away from the teeth and persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.

Every day plaque, a mass of bacteria, builds up in the mouth, which is why dentists advise people to floss and brush their teeth twice a day. But even with a good tooth brushing technique, most people miss parts of their mouth regularly. Over time plaque hardens into tartar, or calculus, which can only be removed by a dentist and is much harder to remove at the junction where the teeth come through the gums.

The result can be serious because gingivitis is often not painful and so may go untreated for a long time, enabling it to develop into periodontitis which can damage the bone and tissue that support the teeth, causing tooth loss. Occasionally, even in a relatively healthy mouth, gums may become sore and infected, producing an unpleasant metallic taste. This is acute gingivitis and requires urgent treatment.

The hygienists at Harley Street Dental and Implant Clinic help patients create effective oral hygiene regimes that encompass the correct choice of tooth brush for them, brushing technique, flossing and use of a medicated mouthwash. Advice is also given on lifestyle factors such as smoking and diet that affect gum health. Frequency of eating is also a factor because regular snacks and drinks can strip the teeth of their protective minerals, accelerating decay.

Harley Street Dental and Implant Clinic recommends a dental check-up twice a year to detect and treat early signs of gingivitis and a hygienist appointment every quarter to remove calculus.