What is a hygienist?
Dental hygienists are specially trained to work with the dentist in giving care to patients.
They play an important role in dental health care and are mainly concerned with gum health, showing people correct home care and applying preventive materials to the teeth and gums.
What is the hygienist’s role in the practice?
The hygienist’s main role is to professionally clean the teeth for the patient. This is usually called scaling and polishing. However, perhaps their most important role is showing the patient the best way to keep the teeth free of plaque. Carefully removing the deposits that build up on the teeth (tartar) and teaching you how to prevent it reforming again, will go a long way to slowing the progress of gum disease.
They also give advice on diet and preventing dental decay. By discussing your diet, and recommending other preventive measures, your tooth decay can also be slowed down. Regular visits and advice will help build your confidence in maintaining your oral health and achieving a healthy mouth
The hygienist will work with your dentist to provide care tailored to your needs.
Why is this treatment important?
Regular professional cleaning combined with your home care will help keep your mouth healthy. A clean and healthy mouth will improve your appearance, help you to keep your teeth and give you fresh breath.
Will the treatment hurt?
Scaling and polishing is usually pain-free. However, if you do have any discomfort the hygienist can use anaesthetic creams, or give you some local anaesthetic. It is important that you let the hygienist know at the time so they can help with your pain.
Why doesn’t the dentist do this work?
Some dentists will carry out this type of work. However, many now recognise that the hygienist has been specially trained to carry out scaling and polishing and can spend longer with you. They are also expert at teaching you how to look after your teeth and gums. Often the hygienist will spend a number of appointments getting the gums healthy ready for the dentist to restore the teeth with crowns and fillings.
What can I do to help the hygienist?
You can do a great deal to help yourself and the hygienist, as you are in control of your mouth between visits to the practice.
Your hygienist will have shown you how to remove plaque with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. You will also have been shown how to clean between your teeth with floss, tape or little brushes.
There are many oral care products now available including specialist toothpastes, powered toothbrushes and mouthwashes. Your hygienist will recommend those that are best for you. We recommend you follow three simple steps to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- cut down on how often you have sugary snacks and drinks
- visit your dentist at least once a year
Cutting down the amount of sugar in your diet, and the number of times that you eat during the day, can help to reduce decay. Your hygienist can help you by looking at your decay problem, your diet and by making some recommendations for you to consider.
Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can also help to prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which in turn cancels out the acid produced in your mouth after drinking and eating.