While everyone has heard of and knows roughly what a dentist does this may not be the case for a dental hygienist. But there are some very good reasons for visiting one on a regular basis and in this article we explain some of the basics about dental hygiene and what procedures you can get from a dental hygienist.
What goes on in your mouth
Everyday microscopic organisms called bacteria are in your mouth feeding on any food particles that are trapped in your teeth. Without regular brushing and flossing this can lead to plaque forming, which is when there is a white thin film of bacteria covering your teeth. When plaque is allowed to harden from lack of dental care it becomes tartar. At this point brushing alone is not going to get rid of the tartar, it can only be removed with a deep clean at your dentist office or by a dental hygienist. If it is not removed it can cause gum disease like gingivitis.
What a lot of people do not realize is that when your gums begin to bleed due to infection this can have an impact on your overall health as well as your oral health. The infection can enter your bloodstream and cause complications like strokes, heart disease and complications with diabetes. Even with the busy lifestyles some of us lead now this is quite the motivation to take better care of your teeth and gums. Brushing two to three times a day and regular flossing are great. But even then bacteria can continue to thrive and tartar can form. Adding a regular routine visit to a dental hygienist to get a regular good clean will mean brighter smiles, preventing infection and healthier lives.
So let’s look at what you can expect from a dental hygienist
There are other procedures you can get from a dental hygienist but the main ones involve cleaning and education. A dental hygienist is more weighted towards prevention rather than treatment like you get from a dentist. Here is a look at the five more common dental hygienist procedures.
- Removal of tartar using ultrasonic devices – an ultrasonic instrument is used to remove larger pieces of tartar from the teeth. It does so by vibrating which breaks even the strongest tartar layers. While working at the same time a cool mist is used in the mouth to wash away the pieces that break off. It can sound quite loud to the patient due to the echoing in your head. If at any point it gets uncomfortable signal to the hygienist and they can pause the procedure.
- Cleaning of tartar by hand – Once the ultrasonic device has been used to remove larger pieces of tartar the dental hygienist will then use instruments to scrape off the smaller parts by hand. The tools are able to enter fine spaces between teeth and are shaped to fit. They are not sharp though.
- Polishing your teeth – When the tartar is gone and the basic cleaning is finished the next procedure you can get from a dental hygienist is a polishing. They use an instrument much like a rubber cup which is filled with a paste that helps with the cleaning and run it over your teeth until they are smooth.
- Applying a fluoride varnish – Tartar causes damage to the teeth when acid is released and this can weaken them. To help try to reverse this damage a dental hygienist may use a fluoride tray to apply a fluoride varnish to the surface. To make this more palatable they even have different flavors of varnish like mocha, strawberry or chocolate. Once the varnish has been applied you need to keep saliva off it (by spitting as much as possible) and cannot eat or drink after for at least thirty minutes. For the rest of that day you will be told not to brush, rinse or floss.
- Patient education – One of their primary tasks is to educate their patients as the better educated you are the better oral and overall health you will have. Any questions you have you can ask, if you need to develop a better care routine they can help you come up with it, if you need a better diet they can offer nutritional suggestions and advice. Do share your dental history with them so that they are more able to understand what specific needs you might have.