Today at River Practice we’re chatting all about why having a dental hygienist is great for your oral health.
These professionals provide a great service, offering teeth cleaning and advice – plus so much more!
So, let’s find out a little bit more about what a hygienist gets up to and how they can help you get that perfect smile.
What is a dental hygienist?
A dental hygienist is an important part of any dental team. This role however is not essential within a practice so you may find that your local dentist does not offer one.
All hygienists are licensed and registered with a governing body.
Dental hygienists usually work alongside dentists or can work independently to provide care for your teeth. The main role of a dental hygienist is to clean patient’s teeth, remove stains and tackle plaque build up. They do this through polishing teeth, while also educating patients on how to care for their oral health efficiently. This could be with tackling bad breath, cleaning teeth properly and also talking you through how to prevent diseases.
While their main purpose is to clean teeth, they can also be involved with taking x-rays, diagnosing problems and other treatments. It is best to ask your dental practice what their dental hygienist offers, as it can be different in each setting.
Meet River Practice’s dental hygienist Ali
Alison is our dental hygienist here at River Practice, offering support, guidance and the person to turn to for improving your oral health.
You may have spotted Alison on our website, in our little series called ‘Ask Ali’. She is a friendly and approachable professional, who is a key part of our dental team and a very popular lady with our patients!
Alison has worked in the industry for 25 years. She began as a dental nurse and then qualified as a dental hygienist in 1993.
She has undertaken many courses during this time, in subjects such as dental radiography, periodontal risk management, advanced non-surgical periodontal therapy and also dental emergency life support training on an annual basis.
In her spare time, Alison loves reading, gardening and walking Tilly the family dog.
Check out our feature, ‘Ask Ali’ where she answers your questions – and don’t forget to subscribe for more fun facts!
What can you expect from your dental hygienist?
When visiting a dental hygienist, you may be asked a few questions.
Firstly, bring along any information regarding your medical history. This is important information so the dental team can be aware of any medication that could have an affect on your teeth or oral health.
You may also be asked about your daily routine, such as brushing teeth, flossing and your diet. All of these factors can have an impact on your oral health, having a poor routine or being uneducated in the benefits for your teeth can lead to devastating results.
Your dental hygienist needs to be informed on your behaviour and history in order to care for your mouth efficiently.
During your visit, this is your chance to ask any questions about your oral health. It could be that you are experiencing problems with your gums or perhaps you want to know what toothpaste is best to use – these are all things you can ask your hygienist.
A dental hygienist will also educate you on the best practices of oral health. Whether that’s self-care at home or sharing advice on how having a healthier lifestyle could improve your oral health.
Your hygienist may discuss with you smoking, alcohol and the amount of sugar you consume. They may advise you to reduce your intake, as all of these factors can contribute to problems such as stains, bad breath and cancers. They will talk you through the benefits and also share with you the consequences of these actions.
With teeth cleanings, you should not experience any pain but it is important to note that every person is different.
You may be wondering – but why doesn’t my dentist just do this?
The great thing about a dental hygienist is that they are trained specifically in cleaning teeth and can spend the required amount of time caring for your teeth.
An appointment with a hygienist may take more than half an hour long, so they can clean your teeth efficiently and talk you through everything you need to know.
Read our post on ‘What Is A Treatment Coordinator’ – where we discuss a little more about what this role involves. Like a hygienist, these roles allow more time to be spent with patients. Meanwhile, dentists can focus on treatments and don’t have to worry about running out of time.
How often should you visit your hygienist?
It is advised to visit your hygienist twice a year to ensure that you keep on top of your oral health.
The danger of plaque build-up
A dental hygienist is important to visit, especially when plaque begins to become a problem. When plaque hardens, it then turns into tartar and is usually only removable by professional teeth cleaning.
That is when a hygienist comes in to save the day! They use specialist equipment to scale and polish your teeth, removing tartar, plaque and getting into those hard to reach places you may not clean properly.
The importance of cleaning
The great thing about visiting your dental hygienist is that you can ensure your teeth are getting the treatment they need.
Regular professional cleaning makes sure that the build up of plaque is removed, before it becomes a problem. Sometimes with cleaning your teeth at home, your routine misses out on certain areas of your teeth and mouth.
With professional teeth cleaning, this can prevent gum disease and help detect oral cancer.
Can children visit a hygienist?
Absolutely. Children can benefit greatly from visiting a dental hygienist; this prevents plaque build up and gum disease. Not only this, in some practices a fluoride varnish can be applied to prevent decay.
With their visit, it is more likely their understanding of oral health will be improved. Ensure you are taking your child to the dentist on a regular basis, this way they can get used to the environment and increase their knowledge of oral health.
Benefits of having your teeth cleaned
Firstly, you can be confident that you won’t have bad breath! The build up of plaque and tartar means that bacteria can surface and cause that unwanted stink. A professional clean will minimise this while also preventing any further problems such as gum disease.
You may find that with a visit to your dental hygienist, your confidence is boosted. A healthy looking smile is certain to put a spring in your step, with cleaner and healthier teeth. You will also find that with a clean mouth, you are more likely going to be more confident in social settings. No more worrying about bad breath!
Another benefit of visiting a hygienist is that although you may think you have good oral health, they may spot signs that you’re not brushing properly. This is your chance to find out if you can do anything better to improve your oral health – are you getting to all those hard to reach areas?
Not only this, your hygienist may be able to detect any problems that could lead to something worse.
If you are a coffee or tea drinker, you may find that your teeth are stained. A professional teeth cleaning can remove this build up, leaving you with a fresh and lovely smile.
No more hiding your beautiful smile!
Worried about bad breath? Read our blog post on how to stop it!
Gum disease is caused by plaque build up on your teeth, which also contains bacteria (and smelly breath). This is not healthy for your gums and can make them irritated and in some cases bleed.
Always contact your dental practice if you have any problems with your gums such as swelling, bleeding or have irritation. Your dental hygienist may take x-rays, or do a thorough examination to find out the severity.
If gum disease is left, some bacteria can attack both your teeth and gums, leading to tooth loss. Your gums can become inflamed and irritated, and could lead to tissues to loosen. It could also result in periodontitis, which unfortunately cannot be reversed.
Regularly visit your dentist
It is so important to visit your dentist on a regular basis. Not only does it prevent diseases, they can also spot any warning signs. It is better to treat problems early before it leads to something worse…
Contact River Practice today if you are interested in visiting Alison. With these regular visits, you can ensure you keep on top of your oral health, prevent gum disease and also feel confident every day!