What does a dental hygienist do?

A dental hygienist is a dental practitioner trained in preventive oral care. They often work under the supervision of a dentist and their primary role is to clean teeth and provide patients with education on oral hygiene. Hygienists are able to look for and identify signs of gum disease, and one of their particular roles is to treat this.

It is recommended to attend a dental practice regularly, usually twice a year, for a hygiene appointment alongside your appointments with a dentist.

dentist having a client teeth check-up

What does a hygiene appointment look like?

During this appointment, you can expect the hygienist to perform a thorough cleaning of your teeth and gums, as well as check for any signs of gum disease. Often they can identify other emerging issues and encourage you to book an appointment with your dentist if you require a different level of treatment.

The first step in the appointment will typically be a visual examination of your mouth and teeth, during which the hygienist will check for any signs of plaque build-up and gum disease. They will also check for any problems which may affect their ability to thoroughly clean your teeth, for example the presence of damaged or loose teeth.

When your examination is complete the hygienist will use special tools to clean your teeth and gums. This may include scaling (which involves removing plaque and tartar build-up from your teeth) as well as polishing your teeth (with a particular paste) to help to remove stains on the surface of your teeth. After your teeth and gums have been cleaned, the hygienist may use floss or other tools to remove any remaining debris from between your teeth.

Stains and the build-up of plaque can occur for a number of reasons. Medical conditions, habits and dietary choices can all have an impact on these problems. Your hygienist may be able to give you advice about what kind of lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking) you can make to help reduce the build-up of stains and plaque between hygiene appointments.

Another contributing factor to the build-up of stains and plaque is having a poor oral hygiene routine. Throughout your appointment, the hygienist can provide you with information about maintaining good oral health, such as how to brush and floss properly. This is also a great opportunity to discuss any concerns or questions you may have about your oral health. Your hygienist Richmond will be able to advise you about the most suitable level of care for any problems which may become apparent through this discussion.


What if I have braces or dentures?

This is a very common question which patients with dental fixtures ask, and rightly so. Having additional devices in your mouth can inhibit your ability to clean your teeth and mouth. You may also find that food can get stuck in your brace for example, or that you are unable to floss for the duration of the treatment you are undergoing. Hygienists can help with this! It is important to note that the most beneficial method of cleaning your teeth in these instances is dependent on each case, but to give you an idea of the advice you may receive your hygienist may recommend the use of particular pastes or interdental brushes.

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