A dental hygienist provides preventative dental services that don’t require the skills of the dentist. A dental hygienist doesn’t actually provide dental treatment as such but he or she takes on more of a preventative role. Many dentists now allow patients to organise an appointment with their dental hygienist without first going through a dental examination by one of their dental team. If after an appointment the dental hygienist thinks it’s important for you to see a dentist this will be suggested to you.
If after seeing your dentist he or she wants you to make an appointment with the dental hygienist this isn’t because you have bad teeth but it is so preventative treatment can be applied which will help to ensure you keep your teeth for longer. The sorts of services a dental hygienist provide include:
- educating patients about what types of food should be eaten or be avoided to ensure better oral health;
- educating about oral hygiene techniques such as brushing and flossing;
- applying certain types of preventative treatment to the teeth, such as fluoride treatment and sealants;
- taking and developing dental x-rays;
- scaling and polishing teeth;
- deep cleaning;
- removing stubborn plaque from the teeth.
Preventing gum disease and cavities
An important part of a dental hygienist’s job is ensuring you can use your teeth comfortably and for as long as possible throughout your life. Such problems as gum disease needs to be prevented as it can affect your overall heath. Treatment such as removing excess plaque or undertaking a ‘deep clean’ beneath the gum line in order to eliminate bacteria will help to minimise the chance of developing gum disease. Dental hygienists provide polishing and scaling so that your teeth are completely clean and free of damaging plaque and tartar which if left on your teeth could allow damaging bacteria to thrive. Sooner or later your teeth’s enamel could break down causing cavities and decay to develop.
Keep your breath fresh and teeth clean
Bad breath and teeth discoloration are no longer taken for granted. People want sweet smelling fresh breath and sparkling white teeth which glow when they smile. A dental hygienist can make this happen by cleaning your teeth more thoroughly than any brushing and flossing you can do at home. There are some places where it’s hard to penetrate with a toothbrush or flossing product but a dental hygienist has the tools to get into these vital areas like between your teeth that could otherwise be left for plaque to silently build-up.
Applying teeth saving fluoride
Fluoride treatment can be performed by a dental hygienist as a way of protecting vulnerable teeth from decay. There are two ways fluoride treatment can be applied. The first is through the use of a tray which resembles a mouth guard and is placed in position for 1 to 4 minutes. A fluoride varnish may be painted on the teeth most susceptible to a cavity so they are far stronger and more resistant to tooth decay.
Even though dental hygienists do not have the same knowledge as a dentist they do a good job looking after your teeth to prevent the onset of bad teeth developing.