Keep your smile clean

April 17, 2015

Dental hygienists can be found in dental surgeries all over the country. However their role can sometimes be unclear and many of us, when asked, would probably not be able to accurately explain what they do. So what are the benefits of visiting a dental hygienist? How often should we be going? And what can we expect when we arrive?

The role of the dental hygienist is to help prevent gum disease and related dental problems by keeping teeth and gums clean and healthy. Hygienists are specially trained and use advanced techniques to carry out a variety of cleaning methods. You may well have heard of a ‘scale and polish’ which is one of these such methods. Here, hygienists remove plaque and tartar from teeth, leaving the patient with a squeaky clean feeling afterwards.

In addition to the actual physical cleaning, hygienists are able to offer advice and guidance to enable their patients to maintain good oral hygiene at home. They specialise in giving individual advice on a range of matters related to how we care for our teeth at home. For example, a hygienist will be able to explain to a patient which type of toothbrush and toothpaste to use and why, and how to take full advantage of items such as dental floss and interdental brushes. So a visit to the hygienist in a timely manner, and heeding their advice, is definitely time well spent.

All hygienist treatment is individual and is tailored to meet the needs of the patient. Whilst you might expect to see specific services (for example a standard scale and polish) at a set price, it is more likely that individual treatment packages will be offered. Therefore the number and frequency of visits will be identified specifically for your needs. Your dentist will be able to advise and give you a starting point with this.

Many patients are also concerned that the work of a hygienist may cause them pain or discomfort. Generally speaking, treatment is expected to be free from pain, however there are some occasions when it may be a little uncomfortable. Hygienists are able to offer a number of measures such as anaesthetic creams which will alleviate this. Have a discussion with your hygienist on the day if you have any concerns, or begin to experience any discomfort.

Hygienists play a key role within the wider dental team. Their role supports the dentist to provide an all-round service to the patient. They enable and support patients to maintain good oral hygiene, and to ultimately avoid gum disease and associated problems. It’s a good idea to have a conversation with your dentist on your next routine check-up and find out how a hygienist might be able to support you in maintaining your perfect smile.

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