The job of the dental hygienist is to professionally clean your teeth, ensuring that your mouth is fresh, healthy and free from tartar. Even with the best brushing routine at home it is impossible to stop the gradual build-up of plaque on your teeth- which continues daily. Without the regular removal of this tartar layer you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Although some signs of gum disease can be quite obvious other people may show no signs at all. If left untreated the gum irritation can lead to long-term problems including bone recession and tooth loss.
Combined with a good oral hygiene routine – brushing and flossing twice a day – regular trips to the hygienist in between dental appointments are the best way of ensuring that your teeth stay healthy and strong.
As you would visit the Dentist twice a year, you should also aim to visit your Hygienist at 6 monthly intervals- unless otherwise directed.
Your Hygienist offers the following services:
- To professionally deep clean and polish your teeth (otherwise known as scaling and polishing). This helps to remove any plaque build-up, greatly reducing your chances of developing gum disease.
- Point out any ‘problem areas’ and ways in which you can improve these.
- To advise on interdental devices which could improve the health of your teeth and gums.
- To educate patients on their oral health- including tips for keeping their mouth, teeth and gums healthy in the long-term.
- To help keep breath fresh and prevent the development of any gum disease.
- To help prevent the need for more involved treatments in the future.
- To spot the early signs and changes in your mouth that could indicate cancer and other dental diseases.
Many dental hygienists are also fully qualified to undertake routine dental treatments on behalf of the dentist. These include oral assessments, fillings, x-rays and impressions. They can also apply fissure sealants and fluoride treatments to adults and children if required.
If you have children, a hygienist appointment is a great opportunity for their teeth to be fully checked whilst also allowing them to learn the best ways of looking after their teeth as they grow up.
Looking after your mouth in between Hygienist appointments:
- Remember that your diet plays a considerable part in your dental health. Limit your consumption of sugary food and drink and try to avoid snacking on items throughout the day.
- Brush your teeth twice every day, consider interdental devices, floss and mouth wash for any hard to reach areas.
- Be aware of any changes in your teeth and gums and get them checked out as soon as possible.
What happens in a typical hygiene appointment?
The appointment always begins with checking your medical history. It’s very important that you disclose this information to us in order for us to deliver the appropriate treatment to you. Rest assured everything you tell us is confidential. Then a facial and oral cancer screening is carried out. We check your jaw joint, your bite, any signs of wear, breakages, give dietary advice and of course carefully check your gums. We quantify and record all the above and then based on the findings devise an appropriate treatment plan with you. This time is interactive and takes the form of a discussion with you, it’s important that you understand everything we find in your mouth.
Is there anything else I can expect to happen during my appointment?
It is important for the hygienist to get some background information about you and your cleaning regime in order to adapt your routine to improve your oral health. Stain and debris on the teeth will also be removed, however, some patients require further appointments dependent on the status of their oral health.
Why do my gums bleed?
Bacteria accumulate around the neck of the teeth and cause infection, the body responds by sending more blood to the area to fight the infection so that when your toothbrush touches the gum they bleed. As the disease progresses and ‘goes deeper’ sometimes the bleeding isn’t so apparent but this can be the disease getting worse. Only a dental professional can assess this situation.
Why are my teeth sensitive when I brush them?
They may be sensitive for many reasons but most commonly because incorrect brushing technique has worn the gum away. Our hygienist can apply protection to these areas and show you how to prevent further wear.
My gums always bleed when I brush, why all the fuss?
Gum and bone (periodontal) disease is a silent disease, commonly causing no discomfort until the latter stages when teeth are lost. Hence this bleeding is often mistaken as normal. Healthy gums do not bleed!
How long is the appointment?
Classic hygiene appointments take up to 30 minutes whereas a hygiene appointment with air-flow system takes 45 minutes. These appointments are very thorough and time is taken to assess all aspects of oral health. Dependent on the condition of your oral health, more appointments may be required to achieve the optimal oral condition. Once oral health is established, this will need to be monitored and maintained as often as necessary; this is tailored advice and dependent upon you and your dental needs.
Will it hurt?
Usually not, but where necessary our hygienists are able to give pain-free local anaesthetic using gum numbing cream first.
Will scraping and polishing harm my teeth/restorations?
No. The noise of cleaning sometimes sounds a little ‘scratchy’ when it’s happening inside your head but each stroke of the instrument is carefully placed and angled in a skilled way. Everything we do is aimed to help you keep your teeth healthier, and longer.
Will it make my teeth whiter?
We remove all surface deposits and stains, so yes, your teeth will be brighter and feel amazing. Sometimes stains soak into the teeth and cannot be polished off. Also, teeth become dull over years of eating and drinking coloured foodstuffs so we are happy to discuss other ways of whitening your teeth.
I’ve never been told to see a hygienist before until coming here, why do I need it now?
It may be that your previous dentist didn’t have a hygienist working with them, though more dentists do now realise the benefits to their patients. Or it may be that the gum status in your mouth has changed, lots of factors can affect this, and gums should be continually reassessed.
Do I have to see the dentist in order to benefit from the hygienist appointment?
No. Due to some new changes in the law, you can now have direct access to a hygienist. We still advocate that patients see a dentist as well but the above option can be very convenient for patients to visit our hygienist for cleaning and maintenance in between dentist visits, for example, whilst undergoing orthodontic treatment.
Can my children visit the dental hygienist?
Yes. We offer a service to children whereby advice is given to prevent tooth decay and future gum disease.
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