Regular visits to a dental hygienist are essential for good dental health. Whereas a dentist will take care of the condition of your teeth and help to identify any potential problems, a hygienist has a different job to do. When it comes to a regular deep clean of your teeth and gums there is no substitute for visiting a dental hygienist – so how do they do it?
What do dental hygienists do?
Periodontal evaluation. A hygienist is not only responsible for the cleanliness of your teeth but also contributing to an overall evaluation of teeth and gum health. A periodontal evaluation is recommended once a year and is something that the hygienist can do. It will involve looking for pocketing around the teeth by using a probe to take measurements. Healthy pockets are around 3 millimeters deep – anything more than 5 millimeters and most patients will probably require a deep clean.
The deep clean. Also known as scaling and root planning, a deep clean is designed to deal with tougher issues when it comes to dental hygiene. It will be used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, both from the roots and also the surface. It’s a procedure that normally requires a couple of visits as well as some basic aftercare. Plaque is a soft and sticky substance that is filled with bacteria and clings to teeth. If it is not removed it can become embedded as tartar and can eventually lead to serious problems with tooth decay and may even cause tooth loss. A deep clean is designed to get rid of plaque and also to remove any tartar that may already have formed so that teeth are much healthier and less likely to succumb to decay.
When should you visit a dental hygienist and what’s the process?
Most dentists recommend a visit to the hygienist every 6-12 months to ensure that teeth get a regular deep clean. The cleaning process is often as follows:
- Hygienist will look for signs of bleeding or swelling, irritation or decay
- An ultrasonic instrument is used to deliver mild vibrations to help shake loose pieces of tartar
- Hand held instruments such as curettes or scalers can then be used to remove larger deposits and to help smooth teeth surfaces
- Each tooth is scaled individually to ensure that every piece of plaque or tartar is removed
- The process is finished with a polish with a toothpaste-like solution that will produce shiny, smooth teeth.