Although the role of a dentist has changed massively in recent years, there are still some basic functions which even the most modern clinic should be expected to perform. One of these is helping the patient to keep their teeth as clean and healthy looking as possible, and the dental hygienist has a vital part to play in this task.
It’s only natural that the average person should have a few misconceptions about the role of a dental hygienist. In the past, a hygienist would have been responsible for little more than removing excess plaque and tartar, before passing the patient on to the dentist for the rest of their treatment. A modern hygienist, however, has much more of a role to play, both in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Often, the hygienist will be the first person to spot the signs of a wide range of problems and conditions.
Above all else, of course, a hygienist will be on the lookout for the earliest signs of tooth decay, and for the poor hygiene issues which can lead to decay taking hold. This is only to be expected, but what many people might not realise is that a hygienist will also be looking out for illnesses such as mouth cancer, indications of a poor diet and problems such as drug use.
Whilst cleaning your teeth, your hygienist will explain just what steps you can take regarding your diet, with the aim of protecting the enamel of your teeth. Often this will involve dietary tips. The most obvious of these will be to avoid foods which are high in sugar, but many people might not realise, for example, that low sugar fizzy drinks are still packed with acid which will coat the teeth and then attack them. Similarly, many fruits, whilst healthy in some respects, are high in the levels of harmful acids.
Over and above these dietary steps, your hygienist will ensure that you receive the best and most up to date advice regarding keeping your teeth clean in your own home. A modern dental surgery may use devices such as an ultra sonic tool which will remove tartar and other debris without recourse to excess pressure and scraping. Once the cleaning has been done, however, it’s all the more important that you take notice of any advice given to you re factors such as your brushing technique and the kind of toothbrush you should be using. Often, the most effective step which a dental hygienist can take when it comes to improving a patients oral health regime is to use the mirrors and tools that they have at hand to enable the person in the chair to actually see just how much material has built up on the surfaces of their teeth which they don’t normally get to look at. This will often prove to be the wakeup call which leads to a transformed attitude towards the way in which they clean your teeth.
The observations a hygienist makes will be used to build a programme of treatment. If your teeth are dull in a way which can’t be helped by cleaning, then they may recommend the application of teeth whitening chemicals, whilst a smile which isn’t properly straight can be shifted using Invisalign braces. These are see through, lightweight retainers which perform the same role as traditional metal braces whilst being utterly unobtrusive.
When you visit your dentist, the first person you see will often be a hygienist. Their examination of your teeth will uncover any underlying problems, and help to piece together a full plan of treatment to transform your smile into the best smile it can possibly be.