It is important for patients to understand that responsibility for dental hygiene is a very personal thing. The hygienists are here to inspect your teeth for signs of trouble and help you repair any developing problems, but they can’t do the work for you. Good dental hygiene is enough to ward off a long list of oral ailments and frustrations, from gum disease to tooth decay and dental erosion. It starts with brushing your teeth, in the correct way, twice every day.
However, there is a little more to keeping teeth white and shiny than simply brushing. This guide to dental hygiene and oral care will give you some information on how to keep your mouth in tip-top condition.
What Is a Dental Hygienist?
This is the friendly person at your clinic who carries out common procedures like tooth scraping, polishing, and cleaning. They are highly trained in dental hygiene and know all about keeping the mouth spotlessly clean.
A dental hygienist is not the same as a dentist, who is trained in the repair and restoration of teeth. This is why you’ll only deal with the hygienist unless you’ve got a more complex issue that requires extensive work.
Your dental hygienist can eliminate plaque and tartar build-up from the surface of the teeth, as a way to minimise staining and discolouration. They can also teach you how to clean your teeth in the most efficient way. The notion of somebody having to teach you how to use a toothbrush can seem a little silly (especially if you’re an adult), but the reality is that most people could be doing it better.
The dental hygienist is also able to carry out fluoride treatments and use sealants to protect vulnerable teeth from decay. Traditionally, these experts wouldn’t handle diagnostic procedures like dental x-rays, but most are now trained to do this as well.
Dental x-rays are sometimes needed if the hygienist suspects that there may be a serious problem developing in the mouth.
Why Should You See a Dental Hygienist?
All patients should have an appointment with their dental hygienist at least twice every year. This is a good way to keep the mouth feeling fresh and healthy. It will also put your mind at ease because you’ll know that there are no underlying problems developing. Or, if there are, that fast, effective treatment is on the way.
It is always worth maintaining your oral health because issues with the mouth can have far-reaching consequences. Persistent decay and dental erosion weaken the whole immune system and leave you more vulnerable to illness. Also, having a great smile is important for your self-confidence. It will help you perform better in your work and social lives.
Can a Dental Hygienist Help You Avoid Disease?
Yes, absolutely. This is the primary goal for all dental hygienists. They want to help you avoid bad breath, tooth decay, gum disease, and all of the other nasty problems that come with poor oral health. This is why you should pay extra special attention every time that you visit yours.
They will show you how to slow down tartar build up and recommend positive changes to your diet. Your choice of food and drink has a huge impact on your teeth. Sugary snacks and fizzy drinks are okay in moderation, but consuming too many will dissolve the enamel and leave your teeth vulnerable to acid attack.
Are Dental Hygiene Treatments Painful?
Treatments like scaling and polishing can feel a little strange because you’re not used to somebody touching your teeth in this way. However, there shouldn’t be any pain. If your mouth is particularly sensitive, you may feel a small amount of discomfort, but your hygienist can apply an anaesthetic is needed.
You must tell them if you are not happy or need them how they are working with your mouth. If you don’t speak up, they won’t know.
Are Dental Hygiene Treatments Expensive?
The cost of treatments varies, depending on where your clinic is located, whether it is private or state run, and what actually needs to be done. So, you’ll have to discuss this with the clinic itself. It is a good idea to have a chat with the dental hygienist before any kind of treatment is started so that you have a cost estimate for the work.
Usually, patients aren’t expected to pay their bill upfront. You may even be able to settle the balance in instalments, spread out over months. Once again, it all depends on how your clinic operates and what their payment policies are.
What Is the Right Way to Prepare for an Appointment?
The only thing that you need to do to prepare for your dental hygiene appointment is to maintain an effective, healthy maintenance routine. This means brushing your teeth twice every day (preferably after breakfast and before bed).
The Correct Way to Brush Your Teeth
You should spend at least two minutes brushing. Make sure that the inside, outside, and upper surfaces of each tooth are cleaned. You also need to point your toothbrush towards the gum line, because this where plaque develops. Don’t brush too forcefully, as you may cause damage, but do apply a constant amount of pressure and make slow, circular movements.
It is a misconception to think that electric toothbrushes are much better than manual ones. Both can be largely ineffective if teeth aren’t cleaned correctly anyway. It is very important that you replace your brush (or brushing head) every three months. This keeps the device clean and stops you from transferring any nasty bacteria into your mouth.
The best choice of toothbrush for adults is one with a small head and soft bristles. The enables you to get right to the back of the mouth, while also being kind on the gum tissue.
The Importance of Flossing
Flossing is an easy and effective way to remove plaque from the places that your toothbrush can’t reach. This is mainly in between the individual teeth, which can be hard to clean completely using only a brush.
To floss efficiently, remove a short piece of floss from the case. Carefully insert it between the gaps in your teeth and rub it across the surface. This will dislodge and remove plaque that has built up and prevent your teeth from decaying.
If flossing feels uncomfortable or you are struggling to get the hang of it, you can swap it for thicker, broader dental tape. This is easier to fit between teeth. Alternatively, you can ask your dental hygienist for advice. They will demonstrate the best way to floss and ensure that you are doing it in the safest way.
Why Is Diet an Important Part of Dental Hygiene?
Diet is integral to good oral health. You can’t expect brushing and flossing to do the whole job. No matter how vigorous your brushing routine may be, it won’t save the teeth from decay if you spend all of your time consuming sugary snacks.
Fizzy drinks and sugary foods are fine in small amounts, but if they are consumed all the time they will start to contribute to dental erosion. In time, this causes sensitivity, staining, decay, and the formation of fissures and cracks.
Try to limit the number of acidic beverages that you drink and, where possible, brush your teeth shortly after consuming them. This is particularly useful in the case of things like fruit juice, which is good for the body but can be a strain on dental enamel. Water, milk and tea (without sugar) are all healthy, tasty options.