What Is A Dental Hygienist? | Green Square Dental

What Is A Dental Hygienist? | Green Square Dental

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What Is A Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is an oral health professional who specialises in preventing and treating oral diseases and issues in children and adults. 

There’s nothing better than that feeling of fresh, clean, brand new teeth after you’ve visited a hygienist. 

Moreover, preventing dental issues is much more healthy and effective than treating problems when they occur. 

Did you know that more teeth are lost through gum disease than gum decay?

A hygienist will evaluate your oral health and apply preventative treatments to keep your teeth and gums healthy and looking good. 

They’ll tailor dental treatment to individual patient needs and ensure your teeth stay natural and healthy for as long as possible.

A dental hygienist will also offer advice on diet and lifestyle factors to prevent tooth decay and maintain a healthy-looking smile.

What does a dental hygienist do?

The main role of a dental hygienist is to evaluate your dental health and prevent/ treat potential issues, including gum disease. 

When you visit a dental hygienist, you can expect the following.

Oral health history questions

The hygienist will ask questions about oral health history. This will help them flag anything they need to look out for in your dental health.

Oral health check

A hygienist will use a small mirror to check for inflamed gums or other concerns. 

They will also use light probing tools to examine periodontal health. 

During this check, they will also check for decay, and if present, evaluate the extent of the decay.

They’ll look for any other dental problems too. 

Cameras can be used to view areas at the back of teeth that are not easily visible. 

X rays can be used to diagnose problems below the gum line and advise on treatment. 

In the case of any major concerns, they will contact a dentist.

Cancer screening 

Your hygienist will examine all the different areas of your mouth and the skin around it to check for any signs of cancer. 

Scale & polish

Polish and scaling is a regular procedure at the hygienist. Your hygienist will identify and remove plaque and tartar (prophylaxis).

Tartar is caused by plaque buildup hardening. This can only be removed by special dentist tools.

Using various techniques, a dentist will clean the plaque & tartar from around your gum line. This usually takes a few minutes. 

Deep scaling for gingivitis

When a film of plaque or bacteria builds up on your teeth, gingivitis can occur. 

Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. 

When you have gingivitis, a hygienist will need to perform a deep clean. 

This means that as well as a regular scale and polish, they will clean all the way down to the roots of your teeth and in between them.

This will help prevent any further complications, such as tooth loss.

Fissure sealants, such as preventative fluoride application 

Fluoride restores minerals to tooth surfaces where bacteria has eroded the enamel. 

A dental hygienist may apply a concentrated fluoride gel, foam or paste to protect your teeth against cavities. 

This will protect your teeth against cavities for several months. 

Cosmetic stain removing and brightening

A dental hygienist will use various techniques, including Airflow, to remove stains and make your teeth look white and shiny. 

Other helpful dental hygiene

As well as the above, a dental hygienist will provide you with much helpful advice to help keep your mouth healthy, including:

  • Demonstrating the best tooth brushing techniques to keep your teeth and gums healthy in-between visits. 
  • Telling you about the latest oral hygiene products
  • Advice on how your diet and lifestyle factors such as smoking & drinking can affect your teeth and gums. 
  • Preventing and treating bad breath.
  • Get teeth healthy and ready for the dentist to restore with crowns & fillings
  • Providing local anaesthetic to prevent any pain during treatment. 
  • Taking dental impressions.
  • Helping you care for dental implants.

What is the difference between a dentist and a hygienist?

Hygienists and dentists work together. Although hygienists can work independently with minimal support from dentists.

Dentists have had more dental school training than hygienists. They can write prescriptions, perform surgical procedures and administer local anaesthetic. 

Many also have specialist areas such as orthodontics.

Hygienists mainly focus on the prevention of problems before a dentist is needed. This includes cleaning, providing advice on hygiene, and treating early signs of gum disease,

A dentist steps in when there is a problem such as gum disease, a cavity or more. They will advise and implement the necessary treatment when it is beyond the level of a hygienist.

Benefits of visiting a hygienist

Aside from your teeth looking and feeling good after visiting the hygienist, there are many oral health benefits. 

Hygienists help you maintain good oral hygiene. They’ll help you prevent tooth decay, tooth loss and gum disease. 

They can also help you remove plaque and tartar in hard to reach areas in your mouth, improving the health of your teeth and gums. 

What is Airflow?

Airflow is a tooth brightening technique that removes plaque, stains & discolouration using a combination of water, compressed air & fine powder particles.

Airflow reaches areas that traditional scaling can’t and is suitable for adults and children.

How often should I see a dental hygienist?

How regularly you see a dental hygienist depends on individual circumstances.

If you have very healthy teeth and are good at maintaining your oral health, you will need to see a dentist less than someone who struggles to maintain good oral health. 

A hygienist will recommend how often you need to see them when you go for an appointment. 

It is generally recommended that you go for a dental check-up every six to 12 months. 

Who was the first dental hygienist?

If you were wondering, the first-ever dental hygienist was a woman named Irene E Newman. 

She was an American woman living in Connecticut, trained by Alfred Fones to become the first-ever licenced dental hygienist.

Would you benefit from an appointment with a dental hygienist?

Do you think you’d benefit from an appointment with a dental hygienist? Head over to our contact page and book an appointment with one of our dental hygienists today. 

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