Hygienists play a crucial role in maintaining our patient’s oral health. It’s not only about dental cleanings: hygienists are also trained to spot dental problems that will later comment to our dentists so that you receive proper treatment on time.
You will be pleased to know you are not the only one. Many patients come to our practice with the same concerns. That’s why our team at Bridge Dental offers the Invisalign system as an alternative to those patients that are highly concerned about their smile aesthetics.
Table of Contents
Why do I need to see a dental hygienist?
Professional cleanings are vital to maintaining oral health with regular dental check-ups and a good oral hygiene routine. Hygienists use ultrasonic tools to remove tartar deposits and dental plaque in areas where brushing and flossing have been deficient. Tartar is nothing but mineralised dental plaque, and it is firmly stuck to the enamel surface, so once it has been accumulated, it cannot be removed with a regular toothbrush.
Removing dental plaque and tartar deposits is one of the most critical factors in preventing periodontal disease. Both tartar and plaque can be accumulated below the gum line or in between teeth. If they stay in contact with the gums for a considerable period, they trigger an inflammatory process that damages the gum tissue.
However, periodontal disease is not the only possible outcome of poor oral hygiene. Many other problems, including bad breath (halitosis), stained teeth, tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and abscesses, can also arise from this deficiency.
How often do I need to have my teeth professionally cleaned?
The frequency of these appointments varies a great deal from patient to patient. Some people have excellent oral hygiene and only visit the hygienist once a year. But some other patients need teeth cleanings more often, and this could be due to different facts:
- Deficient oral hygiene: some people don’t brush their teeth as often or carefully as advised.
- Tartar build-up: some patients have a particular tendency to tartar build-up, mainly due to the quality of saliva. They have more minerals in saliva’s composition, facilitating tartar deposit.
- Periodontal conditions: patients with periodontal disease need to be controlled periodically. Depending on the state of each particular patient, these cleanings can be done by the hygienist or the dentist. If severe periodontal disease is detected, a different treatment might be recommended. Preventive or “prophylactic” cleanings are not deep enough to heal the gum tissue.
- Orthodontic treatment: brackets and wires can make toothbrushing a particularly challenging task. That’s why orthodontic patients are advised to visit the hygienist frequently to avoid developing gum disease and dental cavities.
Your dentist may also indicate cleanings before starting any treatment, including simple procedures such as teeth whitening and fillings to more complex treatments like crown and bridgework or dental implants.
What to expect during a dental hygiene appointment
During your visit, the hygienist will follow these steps:
- Scale and polish: The hygienist will use an ultrasonic tool known as a “scaler” to remove tartar or plaque build-ups. Patients will hear scraping sounds during this stage and may also experience tooth sensitivity (local anaesthetics can be applied to ease the discomfort). Gums might also bleed if the patient presents gingivitis or periodontal disease.
- Teeth polishing: Once the plaque and tartar removal is finished, the hygienist applies a prophylactic paste, which contains both antiseptic and polishing agents, to all teeth surfaces with a high-performance brush. This step is crucial to eliminate any stain or roughness that might have arisen from the cleaning.
- Expert floss: using dental floss, the hygienist will remove any rest of the dental plaque or prophylactic paste that might have been accumulated between teeth.
- Oral hygiene assessment: Lastly, the hygienist will explain how to keep your teeth free of dental plaque by showing you the appropriate brushing and flossing techniques for your particular situation. You will also be advised on diet and how to prevent dental decay.
Do professional cleanings hurt?
Professional teeth cleanings are not uncomfortable for most patients. However, those who have receding gums might experience mild to moderate discomfort during the session. In these cases, we offer anaesthetics to soothe teeth sensitivity and patience to make their visit as pleasant as possible. We invite patients to let us know if they suffer from teeth sensitivity or have had bad experiences with dental cleanings in the past to take measures before the treatment gets started.
How can I keep my teeth clean at home?
At home, your main objective is to prevent dental plaque build-up. To do so, we advise you to follow these tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily: this is the most important tip. But to use the proper technique is as important as the frequency, so don’t be afraid to ask our team for a demonstration.
- Replace your old toothbrush: as a general rule, dentists advise patients to replace the toothbrush as soon as bristles show signs of wear down, generally within two months of use.
- Use dental floss once a day: interdental cleaners such as dental floss or proxy brushes are also essential. Dental plaque can be accumulated between teeth, and toothbrushes cannot reach those areas; this bacterial build-up can easily lead to cavities or gum disease.
- Add mouthwash: mouthwash helps reduce the bacteria in your mouth and freshens your breath.
- Drink water. Water washes away food leftovers and any residue that bacteria love to eat. In addition, water is the main component of saliva, which is one of the most critical lines of defence to prevent cavities and periodontal disease. Drinking enough water ensures that it is produced at an optimal rate.
If it has been a while since your last professional teeth cleaning, contact our clinic to book an appointment with one of our skilful hygienists. You will protect your smile from dental decay and periodontal disease in a short visit!