Gill South gets some bad news from the dentist but with a little bit of effort, she aims to be smiling again soon.

I'm really not too sure if this column is doing anything for my self-esteem - I made an appointment with my dentist to check on the health of my gums but I have come home, having been told off roundly for my teeth cleaning abilities.

"Whatever you are doing in your home regime is not sufficient to maintain healthy gums," says my dentist, Andrea Clarke who believes in plain speaking.

I have, what I'm assured is very common, reversible gingivitis. Though Andrea has talked me through it, I've also researched the condition on the Colgate website - much easier to read than the dental ones. People with gingivitis have inflamed gum tissue around their teeth, caused by bacteria found in dental plaque, it says. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into a deposit called calculus, commonly called tartar. Calculus irritates the gums and provides more surfaces for bacterial growth.

Andrea tells me that by removing that tartar, the gums should respond, the inflammation and redness should go and the gums ought to return to full health.


Meanwhile to stop this from happening again, I have to floss regularly to keep the tartar at bay. I have to say in this world of iPads and apps, why do we have to use this bloomin' floss? Couldn't you just do a mouth rinse and everything magically come out from between your teeth? I don't think people on Mars are flossing.

Some of Andrea's patients come every three months to her practice to have their teeth professionally cleaned by the dental hygienist. I love that feeling when you've had your teeth cleaned, your teeth feel like new china. Another tip Andrea gives me is to brush harder - a lot of people do it too softly.

Anyway I'm coming to see the dental hygienist in couple of weeks and to see Andrea again, and I've been told to bring my toothbrush. I feel about 7.

Meanwhile, I have been sent a dietary supplement, Probiotics for Oral Care from Oragenics which claims to whiten teeth, freshen breath and support gum and tooth health. Dr. John Bonfiglio, CEO of Oragenics, says as we age, tooth decay can become even more problematic due to the thinning of the tooth enamel, immune system issues and general eating habits. Gum disease also becomes much more prevalent as the immune system may not be able to fight off the growth of bacteria which causes gingivitis.

Oral care probiotics can help promote a healthy mouth between routine dental visits, he claims. Regular use of probiotics, along with your regular oral hygiene routine, can help support the efforts of my dentist to keep your teeth and gum healthy.

Dr Bonfiglio says the 21st century lifestyle is the reason for the challenges to oral health caused by a shift in a healthy oral microbial population to one dominated by harmful bacteria. Our lifestyles can include poor diet, poor oral hygiene practices, stress, excessive use of antibiotics, and the use of multiple medications that can cause a dry mouth leading to a loss of the protective properties of saliva. And here was me thinking we were living better.

The probiotic, specifically contains two strains of bacteria which were specifically chosen because of their ability to colonise in the gums. It can help replenish and maintain a healthy balance of oral microbes, says Oragenics.

The CEO finishes on a scary note. Eventually, gum disease can lead to loose teeth. In fact, more teeth are lost in the adult population to progressive gum disease than to tooth decay. Hope you've finished your breakfast.

Next week:

I've never learned to apply makeup properly, but I'm becoming more reliant on the stuff. I have a session with a makeup artist who helps the wonderful charity Look Good Feel Better.