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 professional removal of this tartar layer, you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Why you should see a hygienist
While signs of gum disease can be quite obvious, many people experience no symptoms at all. Left untreated, gum irritation can lead to long-term problems, including bone recession and tooth loss.
Combined with a good oral hygiene routine of 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. Just as you should visit your dentist twice a year, you should also aim to visit your hygienist every six months, unless directed otherwise.
Dental Hygiene FAQs
Your hygienist offers the following services:
- 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 them.
- Advise on interdental devices which could improve the health of your teeth and gums.
- Educate patients on their oral health, including tips for keeping their mouth, teeth and gums healthy in the long-term.
- Help keep breath fresh and prevent the development of any gum disease.
- Help prevent the need for more involved treatments in the future.
- Spot the early signs and changes in your mouth that could indicate oral cancer and other dental diseases.
Plaque is a sticky biofilm that continually forms at the gum line and which must be regularly brushed away; if neglected, sugar and acid in our food and drink reacts with plaque and starts to attack the tooth enamel, ultimately leading to cavities. When plaque isn’t brushed away properly, it hardens into tartar, which makes it even more difficult to clean effectively around the gum line, exacerbating the onset of tooth decay and gum problems.
As a result of improved oral hygiene and fluoride, more people are keeping their own teeth into old age. In order to continue to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a regime of brushing and rinsing twice a day should be combined with interdental brushing – cleaning between the teeth.
The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque. The formation of plaque is continuous and its growth cannot be stopped. Whilst brushing controls plaque formation around the surfaces of your teeth, it does not reach between your teeth and that’s why interdental brushing once a day is so important.
Cleaning between your teeth is made possible by the use of the following:
- Dental floss
- Interdental brushes
- Single tuft toothbrushes
- Dental sticks
- Rubber tip stimulators
- Irrigation devices
Talk to your dentist or hygienist to learn more about the right method of interdental brushing for you.
Ideally you should visit the hygienist twice a year, though if you’ve had dental implants or dental restorations, your dentist may require you to visit more regularly as your restored teeth may need to be monitored more vigilantly.