Explaining what causes gum disease

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Kate Scheer from W&H talks about improving patient understanding to reduce periodontal disease

There is a general lack of knowledge among many patients about the risks of periodontitis, causal factors and required action. For example, in a study about the relationship between smoking and periodontal disease, results concluded that just 6% of respondents were aware that smoking can lead to the development of gingivitis and periodontitis [1].

Another study that looked at the common perceptions of periodontal health found that while many individuals were conscious of the affect of poor oral hygiene and diet on the progress of the disease, participants admitted to irregular attendance due to time, lifestyle and cost [2].

With attendance and lack of understanding likely to be an ongoing issue, dental professionals are under pressure to make every second count. Only by getting the message across succinctly and providing advice that will stay with the patient past the end of the appointment can the profession hope to make a difference to those who are uninformed.

To help with this, the British Society of Periodontology recommends incorporating techniques that stimulate the patient to take a more active approach to their oral hygiene and health [3]. These include using open questions to place the patient in control of the interaction, reflective listening to help the patient recognise possible failings in their oral hygiene and avoiding child to adult interaction styles.

By taking a more supportive approach and avoiding the specific focus on failings it should be possible to change patients’ perceptions and maximise engagement with education.

With improved preventative techniques and teaching, and non-surgical periodontal therapy coming into common practice, the reduction in invasive procedures such as surgical therapy should become noticeable. In the meantime, dental professionals must do all they can to encourage regular appointments and deliver quality results so patients stay on top of plaque and calculus management. In order to achieve this, good quality, well-maintained instruments are essential.

For optimal results, W&H offers a complete range of high-performance solutions for prophylaxis, including the Proxeo air scaler with a range of tips, Tigon+ ultrasonic treatment unit and Proxeo contra-angle handpiece. The products work in harmony to gently and safely remove calculus and plaque in all areas of the patient’s mouth to an extremely high standard, helping reduce the risk of periodontal disease and boost patients’ oral hygiene levels.

With the right support and quality treatment, patients will hopefully come to recognise the difference non-surgical periodontal therapy can make to their oral health, and the importance of regular scaling and root planing.

To find out more about W&H products visit www.wh.com/en_uk, call 01727 874990 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


1] Lung ZH, Kelleher MG, Porter RW, Gonzalez J, Lung RF. Poor patient awareness of the relationship between smoking and periodontal diseases. Br Dent J. 2005; 199 (11):731-7; discussion 725. Accessed online March 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16341187 

2] Gholami M, Pakdaman A, Virtanen JI. Common perceptions of periodontal health and illness among adults: A qualitative study. ISRN Dentistry. Vol. 2012, Article ID 671879, 6 pages, 2012. Accessed online March 2018 at https://www.hindawi.com/journals/isrn/2012/671879/cta/ 

3] British Society of Periodontology. The Good Practitioner’s Guide to Periodontology. Accessed online March 2018 at http://www.bsperio.org.uk/publications/good_practitioners_guide_2016.pdf?v=3