A Guide to Good Gumcare With Dr. Wadia

Dr. Reena Wadia is a gum specialist at RW Perio on Wimple Street in Marylebone. With a perfectly aligned set of pearly whites, she is the perfect poster girl for the clinic, which specialises in periodontal (gum) care. Here, the revered periodontist shares her advice for healthy gums and brighter smiles

Everybody should use an electric toothbrush. They are far more effective at removing plaque because they’re designed to gently massage teeth and gums correctly, with many now having a pressure sensor that warns you if you’re pressing too hard. You need to place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the spot where the gums and teeth meet, angle upwards for the upper teeth and downwards for the lower teeth. Spend a few seconds per tooth. For those with established gum disease, you are likely to need more than 2 minutes.

Always use a toothpaste containing fluoride. If you have specific issues, such tooth sensitivity, find a toothpaste that helps tackle this. Always spit and don’t rinse out your mouth after using the toothpaste or it will wash away all the ‘good stuff!

Clean between your teeth. You wouldn’t wash only one side of a dirty dish, and then put it back in the cupboard to use again tomorrow, would you? When you brush your teeth, you’re only washing half of the surfaces of your teeth, front and back. You’re neglecting the two sides your toothbrush doesn’t touch. This leaves the sides of your teeth and the area near the gum line dirty, like only washing one side of a dish! Flossing or use of interdental brushes between your teeth is the way to get into these “nooks and crannies,” which need to be kept clean just as much as the rest of your teeth for good gum health. Interdental brushes are your first choice if these fit in between your teeth. They come in various sizes and you need to ensure a snug fit so go for the largest size that fits. You’ll often need a variety of sizes. If the interdental brushes don’t fit then floss is your next best option.

Fig & Yarrow Oral Hygiene Rinse

Mouthwash is a great breath freshener but should be used at a different time to brushing or it will wash away all the ‘good stuff’ in the toothpaste.

Tongue cleaning is more crucial than you think. Tongue scraping/cleaning can be a helpful part of your oral healthcare regime. The tongue is made up of lots of little crypts, which can harbour bacteria and debris. If these are not regularly removed, a tongue coating forms and this is one of the biggest causes of bad breath. Once you’ve got used to it, your mouth won’t feel clean without it!

Genetics and underlying susceptibility play a big role in determining whether you suffer from gum/periodontal disease. Although the plaque/bacteria are the initial cause, your genetic makeup affects how you react to that plaque. For example, your response may be exaggerated if you are genetically more susceptible. Especially if you are young, have severe disease and no other risk factors, this may be the central reason as to why you have developed the disease.

Francesca Dattilo for Marvis 

Even if gum disease runs in your family, it doesn’t mean the treatment won’t be successful. In fact, treatment for gum/periodontal disease is generally highly predictable.

During a gum screening, the health of your gums is checked through gently measuring if any spaces have opened up between your gums and teeth. Any bleeding is also noted. We also check how well you are keeping your teeth and gums clean at home.

The greatest mistake people make is not brushing along the gum line. This is critical as that’s where bacteria and bugs like to hide. Just brushing your teeth isn’t enough!

Regarding gum disease, there are a few key warning signs to look out for. The first is bleeding gums following brushing, flossing or eating. Bleeding gums are not healthy - they are a natural alarm bell signifying disease. Gum disease may also change the appearance of the gums. In health, the gums are usually a light pink colour. Red, swollen or receded gums are all signs of gum disease.

Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth may also signify gum disease. With more advanced cases, the teeth may start to loosen up and change position.