What is a dental hygienist?
Dental therapists and hygienists are specially trained to work as part of the dental team, to give care to patients.
They play an important part in dental health care and are mainly concerned with preventive dental health and treating gum disease – showing you correct home care and helping to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
What can I do to help the hygienist? The hygienist’s main work is to prevent and treat gum disease. This includes professionally cleaning your teeth by removing plaque and tartar (usually called a ‘scale and polish’ or a prophylaxis). However, perhaps their most important role is showing you the best way to keep your teeth free of plaque. Plaque is a sticky coating that forms constantly on your teeth. Hygienists also give advice about diet and about preventing tooth decay. The hygienist will work with your dental team to give you care that is tailored to your needs.
Can a dental hygienist do anything else?
Dental therapists also take dental x-rays and can do some fillings and extractions. Dental hygienists can also place fissure sealants, apply fluoride varnishes and administer fluoride treatments.
Tooth whitening is also available from the dental hygienist, under a prescription from your dentist.
What other help can be given to adults?
Adults who have a lot of decay can benefit from having fluoride applied. They can also have anti-bacterial gels and solutions applied under the gum to kill the bacteria causing gum disease.
Another very important part of the hygienist’s work is showing you and telling you how to look after your mouth at home. The hygienist may also suggest giving up smoking, as this will reduce staining and improve your general health. Research has also shown that smokers have more gum disease and lose more teeth than non-smokers. Your hygienist will be able to advise you on various ways of giving up smoking. They can also give you special advice for home care if you have dental implants or orthodontic appliances.
What help is available for children?
Our therapists are able to provide fillings and if necessary extractions.
The permanent (or ‘adult’) back teeth can also benefit from having the biting surfaces sealed. This is done by applying a special plastic coating to the biting surface soon after the teeth come through.