What is a Dental Hygienist?
- A hygienist works with the dentist to help patients care for their teeth.
- The role is a combination of a clinician, treating and preventing gum (periodontal) disease and decay (caries) and a communicator/educator, teaching and motivating patients to care for their own teeth and gums.
- Hygienist’s are specially trained for this work, doing a course at the school of dental hygiene accredited by a university.
What does a Dental Hygienist Do?
- The hygienists’ prime role is to prevent and treat periodontal disease. Each patient needs to be monitored according to his/her periodontal disease pattern to ensure it remains stable.
- The hygienist will carry out a range of professional cleaning tasks specific to each patient’s particular requirements, including scaling and polishing teeth, root planning.
- She may also apply particular medications and solutions to the mouth and gums to kill bacteria and prevent gum disease.
- Your hygienist will then develop with you a maintenance programme for your mouth to keep it clean and healthy as possible.
Advice and Education
The hygienist can advise you on a range of oral health procedures tailored for your needs, and demonstrate how to carry them out effectively. These include:
- Flossing and interdental cleaning
- Subgingival (below gum) cleaning
She can also recommend the most suitable products to carry out these procedures.
- The hygienist is also qualified to advice and help with more general issues concerning oral health, such as dietary advice or help in giving up smoking.
- Often the hygienist is the only health professional with the time to spend with patients discussing these issues.
Why Should I Visit the Hygienist?
- Visiting the hygienist regularly is important to help maintain good oral hygiene and anticipate problems that may arise.
- The hygienist works in team with the dentist and you, the patient, to provide a programme of oral care which is appropriate to your needs and lifestyle, and is an excellent source of advice on all matters of oral health.
How Often Should I See the Hygienist?
This will vary depending on your state of oral health and is completely individual to each patient.
How to Get the Most Benefit from Seeing the Hygienist
- Ask the hygienist to demonstrate any tricky procedures, such as flossing.
- If problems develop between visits, tell the hygienist about them so that she can advice or treat you appropriately.
- Between visits try and carry out the cleaning procedures the best you can, and stick to the programme suggested by your hygienist.
- Although the hygienist plays a crucial part in maintaining the hygiene of your mouth, the most important person responsible for your oral health is yourself.