The oral hygienist can help you to take good care of your teeth as well as the periodontium (supporting tissue) of the teeth. It is important to have healthy teeth and gums, a fresh breath and a socially acceptable smile. This can only be achieved if you clean your teeth and gums properly. The oral hygienist specializes in showing you how, and motivating you to do so. She also specializes in removing plaque and calculus (calcified plaque) deposits on the teeth and underneath the gingiva (gums). If this is not done, you are at risk to develop periodontal (gum) disease. More than 80% of people suffer from mild to severe gum disease. The danger of gum disease is that it is painless in the early stage and only in an advance stage pain and discomfort are felt. At this stage irreversible damage to the periodontium (supporting structure of the teeth: bone and soft tissue) is present. If gum disease is not treated, mobility occurs and the patient can lose his/her teeth if disease prevails. Scientific studies have proven a direct link between periodontal (gum) disease and certain systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, adverse pregnancy outcomes, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory disorders and osteoporosis. To visit your oral hygienist regularly, risk of developing these conditions can be reduced as well as optimum oral health can be achieved. Most patients only need to see the oral hygienist every six months, unless otherwise advised for patients with an existing periodontal (gum) condition.