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The Wonder of Structure


At the start of this month, we welcomed Ben Wall DipHE (Liv 2010) to our practice as our new Dental Hygienist/Therapist.

Ben has worked previously since 2010 in private dental practice and brings his skills and knowledge to assist each individual achieve optimum oral hygiene by using the latest dental hygiene treatment solutions to help achieve this. He also enjoys helping clients who are anxious about having hygiene treatment.

In his spare time when not in the hygienist clinic he loves to travel to Russia and explore the great outdoors.

When on a trip to the Fourth Road Bridge he made recently, he wrote this enlightening article featured below in which explains the wonder of structure in industrial and dental contexts:


The Fourth Road Bridge, captured by Ben Wall


Last weekend I spent some time by the Firth of Forth and got up close to the iconic Forth rail bridge, designed with engineering principles that have withstood the testing of the elements over time.

I marvelled at the beauty of its structure, admiring the cantilever arches of the bridge towering above me, gracefully stretching across the Firth set against the evening sky. As I got closer I noticed some scaffolding indicating that some ongoing maintenance work was being undertaken.

I got thinking about the underlying support for the edifice before me then the dental hygienist side of me got thinking how in an even more wonderful way teeth also have their supporting structures that are designed to withstand the forces and elements of the mouth over time.

Rather than steel and heavy duty rivets of the rail bridge, the supporting structures of teeth is made up of the “periodontium” (a word derived from the Greek meaning ‘around teeth’), mainly consisting of living connective tissue of the jawbone, and collagen fibres of the periodontal ligament. Each tooth is suspended between bone and gum in its own suspension of soft tissue ligament fibres. This suspension allows forces of chewing without breaking the teeth while at the same time keeping the teeth firmly supported in the alveolar jaw bone.

Healthy gums are indeed very much the foundation of healthy, functional teeth. Engineers need good foundations for bridges or houses; likewise, a healthy periodontium forms the foundation of a healthy and functional mouth. The Forth rail bridge requires constant monitoring and maintenance so too do our own gums and teeth. Gum diseases cause the inflammation or in more advanced cases the breakdown of the supporting gum fibres causing mobility (wobbliness) of teeth, in severe cases leading to tooth loss. Gum disease can be described as a ‘silent disease’ the symptoms can go unnoticed as often no significant discomfort is experienced but medium to long term outcomes can lead to life altering consequences such as mobility or tooth loss.

Dental hygienists like me are excited about helping individuals maintain their mouth in as optimal condition as possible and to keep teeth for longer or for life. Our scope of practice extends further than just giving a nice clean shiny ‘scale and polish’ but also identifying, and correcting gum disease, helping create the right oral conditions to promote healing and long term health of the supporting structures of teeth followed by assistance with ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

Modern dental hygiene includes numerous solutions carried out in the hygienist clinic coupled with an individually tailored and structured approach to home maintenance essential for enabling health of gums and teeth and indeed success of all dental work.

Next time you see the wondrous Forth rail bridge, perhaps noticing any ongoing maintenance work, spare a thought for the wonder of the supporting structures within your own mouth and remember just how they too are deserving of care and attention!”

Written by Ben Wall

Dental Hygienist/Therapist DipHE (Liv 2010) at Integrated Dentalcare

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