Should I see a dental hygienist, and what do they do?

It’s not just dentists who are crucial for keeping our teeth nice and healthy. Sure, if you need a filling, your dentist is your first port of call, or if you have problems with tooth alignment, then a specialist orthodontist can offer a solution. But dental hygienists should be an essential part of your toothcare routine. 

A hygienist is an important part of the dental team, and helps both adults and children look after their teeth and gums. Some of the procedures a hygienist carries out include: 

  • Polishing teeth 
  • Scaling teeth 
  • Applying topical fluoride and fissure sealants 

Thanks to their in-depth knowledge of tooth and gum care, your hygienist can help prevent problems such as bad breath, and prevent and treat gum disease. If they spot any signs of gum disease, they can refer to you a dentist to have it treated. 

A hygienist will also offer advice as to how to care for your teeth at home, and how to develop good oral hygiene practices. They’re also knowledgeable about creating healthy lifestyles, and can offer tips on diets that are best for your teeth. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease, and your hygienist may be able to offer advice about quitting. 

Seeing a hygienist is even more important if you have braces or aligners such as Invisalign, as having clean, healthy teeth and gums is crucial to ensure smooth tooth movement and re-alignment.  

What happens at your appointment? 

When you book in to see one of our hygienists, you’ll be in good hands. First of all, you’ll have a hygiene examination, after which any plaque or tartar will be removed (don’t worry, you’ll hardly feel a thing!). It’s especially important that this is carried out regularly, as a build-up of tartar can cause cavities if left. And your toothbrush can often miss these bits, especially when you brush in a hurry or if your toothbrush is a bit worn and curled around the edges. 

Once the plaque and tartar are removed, the hygienist will polish your teeth to get rid of any surface stains, and offer advice on keeping your teeth in the best possible shape and maintaining good oral hygiene.  

How often should you visit your hygienist? 

It’s a good idea to see your dental hygienist every six months, although some people choose to visit every three months to keep their teeth super sparkly. If tartar solidifies, it becomes very difficult to remove as it eventually hardens on to your teeth, so it’s best that it’s dealt with regularly. 

If you have signs of gum disease, your dental hygienist can monitor symptoms and you might be advised to attend appointments more frequently. However, if your gum health improves then the time between visits can be lengthened. 

Your dentist or orthodontist will be able to advise on how often you should see your hygienist – or just give us a ring and we’ll talk you through it. 

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