As well as regularly visiting the dentist, it’s just as important to visit the dental hygienist to maintain your dental well-being. Dental hygienists are specifically trained to look after the health of teeth and gums, providing thorough, deep cleaning and educating patients on how to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.
Their role differs from the dentist in that they are trained to help you properly care for your teeth, helping prevent problems, whereas the dentist’s role is to diagnose any issues you might have and provide treatment for them, whether it be a dental procedure or prescribing medicine. Dentists provide skilled, targeted treatment whereas dental hygienists provide more general tooth and gum care.
What to expect from a hygienist appointment
The hygienist will examine your teeth and gums for and signs of gum disease or gingivitis, and assess plaque and problem areas. Then they will carry out a full and thorough clean of your teeth, removing any plaque build up that there might be. Once completed, they will then talk you through how to keep your teeth and gums healthy through brushing, flossing or using interdental brushes to regularly remove harmful bacteria.
Hygienists are trained to be gentle, however if you haven’t been before or have plaque build up, it may be a little uncomfortable. If necessary, a topical anaesthetic can be applied to any particularly sensitive areas, however regular visits will mean that any initial discomfort can be avoided in future.
In addition, it’s important to emphasise that as well as enjoying fresher breath and keeping your teeth and gums healthy, which means fewer visits to the dentist, regular hygienist appointments can help to reduce the risk of developing several serious medical conditions. These include arthritis, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, degenerative illnesses and problems with pregnancy such as premature births and low birth-weight babies, which research has all linked to gum disease. Almost 90 percent of us suffer from gum disease at some point in our lives but with good hygiene care the risks can be easily controlled.
How to care for your teeth and gums between visits
As well as brushing twice daily for two minutes each time, and using a good toothpaste, we would recommend using the following rules of thumb to help keep harmful bacteria at bay:
- Cut down on sugary and starchy foods – particularly between meals or within an hour of going to bed
- Opt for tooth-friendly foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, as they can help increase saliva flow and remineralise tooth enamel
- If you really fancy a sweet or starchy treat like chocolate or crisps, have them at mealtimes to reduce the frequency of putting your teeth under attack
- Avoid smoking, as this can interfere with saliva production
- Avoid excessive alcohol, as this can lead to enamel erosion
- After brushing, use an interdental brush to get to hard to reach areas between teeth
- Lastly, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash after you brush to help cleanse the areas of your mouth not reached by brushing
If you have any questions about dental hygiene or would like to book an appointment don’t hesitate; get in touch today!