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Oral hygiene

Many of us visit our dentist regularly. However, while most practices have one available, not all of us visit our dental hygienist quite so often. When we do, it is often simply because our dentist recommends it. So let’s take a closer look at the role of the dental hygienist. What do they do? Why is it a good idea to visit them? And what will happen if you don’t?

What is a dental hygienist?

Most modern practices will have a dental hygienist who works with your dentist to ensure that you are looking after your teeth properly. The role of the dental hygienist is to monitor your rate of gum disease and recommend steps that you yourself can take to avoid serious dental work in the future. Therefore, it is very much in your interests to listen to what they have to say.

What sort of recommendations will they make?

If you visit your dental hygienist, they will normally begin with a scale and polish, during which the plaque and tartar are removed from your teeth. The advice from your hygienist will then involve recommendations on how you can avoid plaque and tartar building up in the future. They make recommend a different way to brush your teeth, giving up smoking or making changes to your diet to protect your teeth in the future.

What damage will plaque do?

Plaque is a major cause of tooth decay and gum disease and is often caused by sugary foods and drinks, for example. Therefore, if you can change your diet, this may help to slow down the build-up of plaque and stop you from needing fillings, or even tooth extractions, in the future.

What else can I do to maintain good oral hygiene?

Toothcare is an important industry and there are many different products available. For example, you could try a different type of toothbrush, such as an electric one. You could try a mouthwash or dental flossing. And don’t forget to choose the right kind of toothpaste – do you need one with extra fluoride? Or one for sensitive teeth? Do they all remove plaque as well as each other?

It’s bewildering. Where do I start?

Start by talking to your dental hygienist or, if your local practice does not have one, speak to your dentist. They will be able to evaluate the quality of your oral hygiene and highlight areas where you could be looking after your teeth and gums better. They will probably also be able to recommend the right kinds of products for you from the vast array currently on the market. So you can begin to put together an oral hygiene programme that suits you.

Are children too young to visit a hygienist?

In a word, no. Children’s teeth are more vulnerable to plaque than adult teeth and therefore their teeth need to be well looked after. A visit to the dental hygienist will not only help to remove plaque and polish their teeth. You can also talk to your hygienist about preventative techniques, such as extra fluoride treatment or dental sealants. You can read more about those sorts of treatments on this site.

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