What to expect during a visit to a dental hygienist
You might be great using a toothbrush but dental hygienist duties ensure those at-home efforts have maximum effect. Hygienists also keep an eye on overall dental health. They pinpoint potential issues and draw dentist attention to current problematic areas.
What will dental cleaning involve?
Firstly, the hygienist checks around your gums, taking note of any signs of periodontal disease. Next, they give your teeth a really thorough cleaning, discussing areas you might be having problems with, and the best way to address them. The goal is to help you better maintain teeth so any problems don’t get worse—or hopefully, can begin to improve.
Our hygienist can point things out to the dentists at our practice, providing a second pair of eyes in a lot of cases. She often brings up concerns before we start, such as specific areas to focus on.
And our hygienist is an Oral Health Therapist, meaning she’s able to do work for children as well.
Do I really need to see a dental hygienist?
Some people ask why the dentist can’t just fix the problem. But the clean is important. If you don’t clean your teeth perfectly—and almost nobody cleans their teeth perfectly—plaque will build up on your teeth.
Over time that plaque can sit on the teeth. It hardens to create calculus, which is also known as tartar. You can’t remove tartar yourself. That plaque and the calculus can contribute to not just dental decay but also periodontal disease. That means that you can begin to lose the gum, the ligament and the bones around the tooth that hold the tooth in place.
In many cases, this is an irreversible process. Cleaning all that stuff off it makes it easier for you to keep teeth clean between visits.
Will it hurt?
Some patients haven’t been to the dentist for a long time and they’re worried it’s going to be painful getting the tartar cleaned off. It can be, and sometimes the process needs to be done over a couple of visits if you have a lot of build-up and haven’t had dental cleaning for a long time. Sometimes it’s done with local anaesthetic in certain areas where there are particular issues.
One of the advantages is Oral Health Therapists are able to give the local anaesthetic themselves. Their training is a lot more specific, focusing on the areas they deal with. They spend a lot more time with you, going over these issues—more than dentists can.
The finishing touch
Another positive aspect is that dental cleaning can help alleviate bad breath by removing the calculus. Once that sets on teeth, it provides a nice little hiding space for nasty bacteria to live in.
After a dental clean, patients love how fantastic their teeth feel. And dental cleaning also removes surface staining—tea, coffee, red wine, all the things that leave a stain on teeth. Professional cleaning will get rid of a lot more of that than what you can get off at home.