DENTAL HYGIENISTS ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR PRACTICE
What Is a Hygienist?
Hygienists are dental clinicians who focus on maintaining optimal gingival (gum) health and prevention of dental conditions such as decay and erosion. They carry out professional dental cleaning and educate patients in ways to improve and maintain good oral health.
Dental hygienists typically hold an Advanced Diploma or Bachelor of Oral Health degree. Hygienists’ training focuses on preventative care: they evaluate the condition of your gums, teeth and mouth and offer ways to help prevent oral diseases.
The Importance of Dental Hygiene
Prevention is a primary focus at Botanic Ridge Dental, and a key part of making that possible is our team of 21 hygienists and dental therapists. Dental hygiene begins with an assessment and evaluation of your periodontal (gum) tissue, which is carried out by one of our dental hygienists.
To safeguard your dental health and optimise your oral hygiene, we recommend that you regularly see a hygienist as well as your dentist.
Over time calculus (tartar) builds up on your teeth, both above the gum line and below, in the natural pocket surrounding each tooth. Calculus cannot be removed simply by brushing or flossing, and so a visit to a hygienist for a professional clean is necessary to remove it. When left over a period of time, especially below the gum line, calculus can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) as well as periodontitis (advanced gingivitis involving bone loss).
The majority of dental diseases are preventable. Visiting a hygienist every six months is an important step towards preventing the build-up of plaque and other oral health issues. Your dental health can affect your overall health, so it is important to keep it in check.
What to Expect during a Dental Hygiene Appointment
At the beginning of your hygiene appointment, the dental hygienist will make an initial assessment of your dental health. They will address any concerns you have but will also look at the overall condition of your teeth and gums. Your hygienist will discuss their findings with you and explain what needs to be done next, whether that be to continue with your home oral care routine of brushing and flossing, or whether you require treatment.
During a hygienist appointment your teeth will be given a routine clean to remove plaque from your teeth and bacteria from the oral cavity. This involves knocking the hardened plaque (calculus) off your teeth with an ultrasonic device, which is accompanied by a gentle flush of water to irrigate the gums and remove bacteria.
Your hygienist will then use hand instruments to remove some of the finer calculus particles. Once the calculus has been completely removed, your hygienist will polish your teeth using a handpiece and some polishing paste. Then, after a rinse, you will be given a fluoride treatment.
How to Care for your Oral Health between Appointments
Your dental hygienist will give you tips on looking after your oral hygiene at home, and will give you detailed instructions. Your home routine starts with brushing your teeth at least twice each day and flossing once a day.
Brushing your teeth morning and night will adequately remove plaque from most surfaces of your teeth. You should brush for approximately 2 minutes using a gentle circular motion or an electric toothbrush.
Brushing alone is not enough, however, as it doesn’t remove the plaque or food debris in between your teeth, and that is why flossing is necessary. You need to floss only once a day. Gripping each end of a length of floss between your thumbs and forefingers, slowly work it between two teeth in a gentle sawing motion that also reaches just below the gum line. It is important not to be too rough with the floss or you risk damaging your gums. Another option is Piksters, inter-dental brushes that can reach areas your toothbrush cannot and are able to dislodge food and debris.
Your hygienist will work with you to develop a preventative approach that is tailored for you, depending on the condition of your dental health and the areas of concern. They can also show you the proper way to brush or floss, if you are unsure.
As well as cleaning your teeth, you can help prevent dental decay by eating balanced meals low in sugar and acid, and limiting snacking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hygienists, periodontists and dentists each play a different role in looking after your dental health, and so you will visit them for different reasons.
Your hygienist will perform your professional teeth clean and look after the health of your gums every six months. They focus on assessing your oral health and prevention of future dental problems.
Your dentist will perform your annual check-ups and look after your general dental health. If your dentist or hygienist finds evidence of gum disease they may choose to refer you to a periodontist.
A periodontist is a dental specialist whose focus is the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease (also known as gum disease), and in placing dental implants and performing bone grafts and gum lifts.
At Botanic Ridge Dental our team of dental hygienists works under the same roof as our general dentists and specialists, allowing patients the convenience of having all dental needs attended to in the one place. With such a strong focus on preventative dental care, our hygienists are a crucial part of our practice and will provide you with the best possible tips and treatments for looking after your oral health.