What exactly does a dental hygienist do?
Our dental hygienists are trained to meticulously clean and maintain your teeth and gums, developing a personalised oral hygiene program to suit a patient’s individual needs.
The goal is to maintain healthy teeth and gums and prevent decay and gum disease. Healthy gums are a long-term investment for beautiful teeth, and the dental hygienist will monitor your oral hygiene, helping you to achieve a healthier mouth.
- Evaluation of oral health and gums
- Meticulous cleaning and polishing of the teeth, including below gum level
- Identification of oral conditions such as bad breath and dry mouth and assistance in treating them, as required
- Advice on oral products to aid specific oral conditions
- Application of decay preventing agents
- Taking of dental x-rays for diagnostic purposes
- Instruction on correct brushing and flossing techniques and advice on appropriate oral hygiene products to suit the individual
- Outline of a personalised oral hygiene program with recommended 3, 6 or 12 monthly visits, recommended future treatment and referral for specific treatment, if required
Oral hygiene products
The Oral Hygiene Centre stocks a wide range of products and the Dental Hygienist might recommend certain products, as required for ongoing at-home maintenance, such as:
- Toothbrushes – manual/electric
- Interdental cleaning devices and irrigation devices
- Oral cleaning aids for patients with implants
- Oral rinses and specialty products for oral conditions such as ‘dry mouth’
The dental hygienist
Cleanings, X-rays, preventive sealants, scalings, root planings and oral hygiene education are among the procedures frequently performed by a hygienist. The hygienist will teach correct brushing and flossing techniques and recommend oral hygiene products to suit individual needs.
Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth clean, and is considered to be the best means of prevention of conditions that may lead to more invasive dentistry, such as cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, periodontitis and other dental disorders. It also helps to prevent bad breath (halitosis). Oral hygiene is considered necessary for all persons to maintain the health of their teeth and mouth.
Oral hygiene consists of both professional and personal care.
Use a soft toothbrush at the gum line where the teeth meet the gums. Brush in small circular motions on one or two teeth at a time. Brush the top and bottom teeth, cheek-side, lip-side and in close to the tongue. Brush the chewing surfaces of all upper and lower molars. Brush the top of the tongue to remove bacteria.
Pro-tip: Angle the brush at a 45-degree angle to allow the bristles to gently clean under gums.
Electric toothbrushes are effective if used systematically; that is, only brushing a small area at a time.
Correctly brushing is important to your dental health.
Break off about 40cm in length of dental floss, ribbon or tape. Wind the ends around the longest, middle fingers. This leaves the index fingers and thumbs free to move. Try to keep only 1 cm tight enough to slide between teeth. Leave about 5cm each side for “leverage”. Slide using a “sawing” motion between your teeth. Do not force the floss since it will hit the gums and hurt. Slide up and down each tooth to clean off plaque and food debris. Continue to floss all teeth.
Pro-tip: To reach your back teeth, it helps to close your mouth enough to soften cheek muscles.
Most people visit the dentist when they already have a problem with their teeth; this includes common dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, root canal disease and the loss of teeth. However, by making a single annual appointment with your dental hygienist, you could avoid these problems and the cost that accompanies them. Since a dental hygienist provides your teeth with a professional clean, it can prevent the pile-up of harmful bacteria. Visiting your dental hygienist could also mean a problem is caught earlier, so you can get the appropriate treatment without more serious consequences such as the loss of teeth.
A regular appointment with the dental hygienist is not only important for adult patients, because children can benefit greatly from a visit to the dental hygienist too. A dental hygienist can provide a similar dental clean, but can also provide the child with information about oral hygiene and its importance. They can teach your child everything they need to know about keeping their teeth healthy, making your job as a parent a little easier. Of course, you will still need to make an annual appointment with your child’s dentist too, just to make sure that there aren’t any underlying problems that could cause dental issues in the future.