Dental Hygiene has evolved from the traditional “scale and polish”. Prevention of disease is fundamental to modern dentistry. Alongside dentists, hygienists deliver and reinforce oral education to motivate you to create a positive behaviour change which is long lasting. Hygienists help to impart the necessary knowledge and skills so patient’s can take responsibility for their own oral health.
Research shows that the build up of plaque and subsequent bacteria can cause gum disease in those people who are susceptible. However we do not know fully who is susceptible to this disease process.
Excellent home oral hygiene is of fundamental importance to tackling periodontal disease besides regular professional debridement. Time will be spent during your appointment not only cleaning your teeth and gums but educating you on the best methods of maintaining a beautiful and healthy smile. This advice will be personalised and tailored to your dentition, lifestyle and circumstances in order to be maximally effective. You need to actively work together with your hygienist to achieve your goal.
Hygienists are now able use a vast array of scalers, polishes, pastes and air polishers to professionally clean your teeth and gum pockets. This not only ensures the removal of any tartar and plaque, but also stains caused by smoking, drinking red wine, tea and coffee, the use of certain mouthwashes and stain caused by chromogenic bacteria.
Fundamental to a healthy dentition is excellent oral hygiene. Creating good protocols from a young age sets a foundation for keeping teeth and gums healthy long term. We therefore also encourage children where necessary to see the hygienist. This may be as a one off, long term or alongside other treatments such as orthodontics where good oral hygiene becomes more difficult to maintain due to appliances.
As well as tooth decay and gum disease, poor oral hygiene has been linked to systemic disease. Studies are now linking gum disease with many other conditions including heart disease and stroke. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by the bacteria involved with periodontal disease may be responsible for the association. Untreated gum disease increases a susceptible individual’s risk. Early detection leads to easier and simpler treatment and to a better quality of life.
The hygienist will:
- make you feel more confident about your smile
- gently make your teeth and gums feel fresher and healthier
- give you great advice about how to look after your oral health
- remove stains and improve your smile
Apart from advising you on how to clean your teeth and gums, the hygienist may also discuss your diet with you, especially if you suffer from repeated decay lesions requiring fillings. Clever yet simple dietary changes can eliminate dental caries which is currently the largest preventable cause for child hospital admissions in the UK.
Additionally they are able to advise you on the cessation of smoking. Smoking is closely related to gum disease. Any reduction in the amount of cigarettes smoked or ideally a complete cessation is beneficial to the health of your teeth and gums as well as your overall well being.
What is Plaque?
What is Calculus (tartar)?
Why do my gums bleed?
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontitis requires further treatment than Gingivitis. Patients will require thorough debridement of all accessible tooth surfaces. Sometimes this may require local anaesthetic.
In more severe cases, the patient may be referred to a local Periodontal Specialist for an opinion and possible treatment. Following the initial therapy maintenance is often provided between the two practices long term.
Some patients may benefit from the use of antimicrobials to supplement their treatment such as antibiotics, either systemic or local, and Periochips (small self dissolving chips inserted into pockets which release antimicrobials directly to the pocket flora to help eliminate stubborn residual bacteria). This treatment is very successful and will help slow down the rate of destruction and hopefully prevent the loss of the affected teeth.
Why do I have Bad Breath?
Other causes of bad breath are food and drinks such as garlic, onions, coffee and alcohol, smoking, crash dieting, certain medications (nitrates and some chemotherapy drugs) and certain medical conditions such as dry mouth.
In addition to cleaning thoroughly between the teeth it is recommended that you also clean your tongue on a daily basis with a tongue scraper or by brushing it with a toothbrush. Certain mouthwashes are available on the markets which have been designed to specifically neutralise VSCs.
Can smoking cause Gum Disease?
The differences are due to constriction of blood vessels, suppression of the immune system and changes in the oral cavity as a result of the irritants and chemicals found within the cigarette smoke. Smokers suffering with periodontal disease are therefore more likely to require a specialist referral and the use of antimicrobials.
What does teeth cleaning involve?
Is cleaning painful?
How often should I have my teeth professionally cleaned?
What if I don’t have my teeth professionally cleaned for a while?
Treatment under Direct Access to a hygienist
Visits to hygienists do not substitute for full dental examinations, the frequency of which depend on your needs and can vary from 6 months to 2 years.
Referral to dentists
In very rare circumstances a hygienist may be unable to start treatment until you have seen a dentist. These may relate to your medical history and general health or the condition of your mouth.
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