The job of the dental hygienist is to professionally clean your teeth, ensuring that your mouth is fresh, healthy and free from tartar. Even with the best brushing routine at home it is impossible to stop the gradual build-up of plaque on your teeth, which continues daily. Without the regular removal of this tartar layer you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease.
Although some signs of gum disease can be quite obvious, other people may show no signs at all. If left untreated the gum irritation can lead to long-term problems including bone recession and tooth loss.
Combined with a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing twice a day, regular trips to the hygienist in between dental appointments are the best way of ensuring that your teeth stay healthy and strong. Just as you should visit your dentist twice a year, you should also aim to visit your hygienist every six months, unless directed otherwise.
Your hygienist offers the following services:
- To professionally deep clean and polish your teeth (otherwise known as scaling and polishing). This helps to remove any plaque build-up, greatly reducing your chances of developing gum disease.
- Point out any 'problem areas' and ways in which you can improve them.
- To advise on interdental devices which could improve the health of your teeth and gums.
- To educate patients on their oral health, including tips for keeping their mouth, teeth and gums healthy in the long-term.
- To help keep breath fresh and prevent the development of any gum disease.
- To help prevent the need for more involved treatments in the future.
- To spot the early signs and changes in your mouth that could indicate oral cancer and other dental diseases.
Looking after your mouth in between hygienist appointments:
- Remember that your diet plays a considerable part in your dental health. Limit your consumption of sugary food and drink and try to avoid snacking on items throughout the day.
- Brush your teeth twice each day with a fluoride toothpaste. Consider interdental devices, floss and mouth wash to clean any hard to reach areas.
- Be aware of any changes in your teeth and gums and get them checked out as soon as possible.
As a result of improved oral hygiene and fluoride, more people are keeping their own teeth into old age. In order to continue to maintain healthy teeth and gums, a regime of brushing and rinsing twice a day should be combined with interdental brushing - cleaning between the teeth.
The major cause of tooth decay and gum disease is plaque. The formation of plaque is continuous and its growth cannot be stopped. Whilst brushing controls plaque formation around the surfaces of your teeth, it does not reach between your teeth and that's why interdental brushing once a day is so important.
Cleaning between your teeth is made possible by the use of the following:
- Dental floss
- Interdental brushes
- Single tuft toothbrushes
- Dental sticks
- Rubber tip stimulators
- Irrigation devices
Talk to your dentist or hygienist to learn more about the right method of interdental brushing for you.