What Do Dental Hygienists Do?

Posted by on 26 June 2014 | Comments

We have a great team of hygienists – they are fun, friendly and knowledgeable. They are a key part of the care and advice that we provide but not everyone has seen a hygienist before.  So what’s it all about……? 

What is a dental hygienist?

Dental hygienists and therapists are specially trained to treat gum disease AND to help you prevent problems occurring in the first place.  

What do they do in a dental practice?

The hygienist’s main job is to prevent and treat gum disease – an important part of this is cleaning your teeth. You may have heard this called “scaling and polishing”.  Their most important role though, is showing you the best way to keep your teeth free from plaque.  Plaque is a white sticky coating that is constantly forming on your teeth.  Plaque is made of bacteria which live on the sugars in the things we eat. 

If it’s not brushed off properly, it starts to build up – your gums start to react to it (bleeding gums), they can begin to get infected and the plaque can get harder, until it forms tartar which you can’t brush off yourself.  Your teeth may develop decay and your gums can get quite sore. Bad breath and loose teeth can also become a problem. 

Hygienists can help clean off plaque and tartar.  They can help you prevent plaque build-up by giving you advice about your diet, your cleaning techniques and the best kit to use (the right size tooth brush, dental floss, tape). 

Can a hygienist prevent dental disease?

This is what hygienists are all about.  Cleaning your teeth, removing tartar and showing you ways to prevent it coming back will go a long way towards slowing the progress of gum disease.  Their diet advice and other preventive measures can slow down the rate of tooth decay.  Regular visits will help build up your confidence - because our hygienist will have seen you over a period of time she can easily see where further help is needed. 

Who gets gum disease?

Gum disease can start when you are a child but chronic gum disease is normally only a problem for adults. Some people are more likely to have gum disease than others:

  • Crooked teeth are more difficult to keep clean, so the gums supporting them might be prone to gum disease.
  • Smoking makes gum disease worse.  Quitting will make a big difference to the health of your mouth (and in general) so our hygienists can advise on how to stop
  • Certain drugs and medicines can affect your gums: ask us about these
  • Diabetes and some other diseases can reduce a person’s resistance to gum disease  People with these conditions need to be especially careful about their mouth hygiene
  • Existing gum problems can be made worse by hormonal changes due to pregnancy or oral contraceptives.  Once again, good hygiene is important

What can I do to help the hygienist?

You can do a lot to help yourself and the hygienist between visits. The hygienists will have shown you how to remove plaque and how to clean between your teeth (perhaps with floss, tape or interdental brushes).

  • Brush your teeth last thing at night and at least once during the day – use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Cut down on sugary food and drink
  • Chewing sugar free gum for 10 minutes or so after meals can also help (chewing gum makes your mouth produce saliva which cancels out the acid produced by your mouth whilst eating).

 

Call us now to see how our hygienists can help.