A scheduled dental appointment generally starts with a dentist examining your mouth, teeth, and gums, and ends with a hygienist cleaning your teeth, leaving them feeling polished and minty-fresh.
However, these deep cleans do more than leave you with an attractive smile, by helping to prevent an array of harmful infections and diseases.
In this article, we’ll highlight what a hygienist does and why optimising your dental hygiene is essential.
What are the duties of a hygienist in a dental clinic?
Preventive dentistry is a hygienist’s principal focus, which involves deep cleans called oral prophylaxis. This professional treatment removes disease-causing bacteria from your mouth while educating patients about correct home care.
Their role is also pivotal in preventing gum disease and reversing the symptoms of gingivitis with periodontal treatments, or scaling and polishing, depending on the severity of the dental issue.
What you eat affects your oral health, and your hygienist will discuss the different ways you can improve your diet for your teeth and gums.
Studies have also shown a correlation between smoking, poor dental hygiene and bad teeth. Many hygienists recommend smoking cessation, there are many treatments that aid smokers in quitting the habit.
Why don’t standard dental practitioners perform these duties?
Some dental clinics may have dental practitioners who will perform these tasks. However, a hygienist has received further training in preventive dentistry.
You’ll find that a hygienist can provide informative, in-depth advice on how to keep your teeth clean and healthy for the long term.
What do treatments entail?
A hygienist will assess the state of your teeth and gums, which includes measuring the pockets between them with a probe to establish whether you’re suffering from gingivitis or periodontitis, and to what degree.
Your options depend on the severity of your condition. Periodontal issues are reversible in their infancy stages, but can quickly advance if left untreated.
Non-surgical treatments are preferred if the issue isn’t too far advanced, because they’re the least invasive. These include scaling, root planing, or antibiotics.
Scaling entails removing plaque and bacteria from the surface of the teeth, while planing smooths root surfaces to discourage plaque from accumulating in the future. Antibiotics might be needed to help control bacterial infections.
Surgical treatments might be needed for advanced cases, especially if the bone becomes infected and you’re suffering from early tooth loss. Flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, and bone grafting are three possible options.
The question at the front of people’s mind needing treatment is whether these procedures will hurt. Depending on what treatment you opt for and your pain threshold, you might experience some discomfort, but this can be managed with local anaesthesia or creams. However, your hygienist will advise you on your options.
Will I be paying a lot for these treatments?
The price varies between practices and the type of treatment that you’re having done.
If you’re on a budget, gather quotes from dental clinics, and be sure to receive a ballpark figure of what it might cost you before undergoing the procedure to see whether it’s affordable.