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Dental Health

What to expect from a trip to the dental hygienist

There are two main types of dentistry. Restorative care and preventative care. The first is the work we do when something goes wrong. If you have a cavity, your dentist will give you a filling. If you have infected dental pulp, you may need a root canal. And if you lose a tooth, your dentist may fit a bridge or a dental implant. These are all reactive measures which help to keep your mouth healthy.

But there’s another side of dentistry which is just as important. Preventative care can help you to take care of your teeth, prevent dental problems before they arise, and allow you to keep your natural teeth well into old age.

Our dental hygienists are on the front line, leading the fight for excellent oral hygiene. In addition to deep dental cleaning, dental hygienists also help those with specific dental health concerns to manage their treatment. If you’re brushing incorrectly, a dental hygienist will tell you. And if you’re not sure how to floss properly, a dental hygienist can help there, too.

If you’re due a trip to the dental hygienist and you’ve never been before, we’ve put together this little guide of everything you can expect. Read on to discover what you can expect from a trip to the dental hygienist.


Inspection of the teeth and gums

Before getting started with the scale and polish, your dental hygienist will first inspect your teeth and gums. They are looking for signs of gingivitis, or gum disease. If they suspect you have an extreme case of gingivitis or periodontal disease, they will consult with a dentist to ensure it is safe to proceed with treatment.


Remove plaque and tartar

Plaque is a sticky, colourless deposit of bacteria which coats the surface of your teeth. If it is not removed, it can harden into tartar. Tartar is more obvious as it is yellow or brown. While brushing your teeth can help to remove plaque, it doesn’t get rid of it entirely. And once it has hardened into tartar, there’s no shifting it. This is where your dental hygienist comes in.

A dental hygienist uses special tools to completely clean the surface of your teeth. The tool most commonly used is called a scalar. This tool might feel and sound strange, but it shouldn’t hurt. It feels like something scraping against your teeth. This tool allows them to get right up to the gum line and remove deposits that wouldn’t be impossible to remove with a toothbrush.

Remove surface stains

Many dental hygienists will also make use of an Airflow polisher which uses a blast of high-pressure air to remove the surface stains from the teeth. If you are thinking about teeth whitening, the first step should always include a trip to the dental hygienist.


Apply a fluoride treatment

If the tooth enamel has been damaged by excessive brushing or poor diet, your dental hygienist may apply a fluoride treatment. This helps to re-harden the enamel and protect your teeth from cavities. The gel is applied with a swab, brush, tray, or a mouthwash.


Offer advice on brushing and oral health products

Once your teeth are healthy and clean, your dental hygienist can then offer some advice on how to maintain your oral health. If you are using a manual toothbrush, they may advise you to switch to an electric toothbrush and show you how to make the most of it. And if you’re worried about anything specific, like bad breath, they will be able to advise you on the best way to manage your concerns. 


Answer questions you might have about treatments

If you are thinking about any other dental treatments, a trip to the dental hygienist is a great time to ask questions. Your dental hygienist is a fountain of knowledge about the different treatments available, so if you’re not sure if braces are right for you, they can help you to decide!

A trip to the dental hygienist can leave you feeling more confident with your smile. It can also give you the tools you need to make sure you’re taking care of your oral health. With direct access dental hygienist appointments available, you don’t have to wait to be referred by your dentist. 

We would recommend a trip to the dental hygienist at least once per year, preferably twice. When combined with 1-2 trips to the dentist per year, you stand a much better chance of catching small problems before they become big problems. Get in touch today to book your appointment!

Call us now to make an appointment

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