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Hygienist and Gum Disease

Hygienist

What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a dental professional who is registered with the GDC. They play an important role in the treatment and prevention of gum disease.

What does a hygienist do?

Hygienists are trained in a variety of skills including:

  • Scaling & polishing of teeth to remove plaque, tartar and staining from the teeth
  • Gum treatments such as taking measurements to assess the extent of gum disease, and extensive cleaning to remove deposits from below the gums
  • Tooth whitening under prescription of a dentist
  • Taking x-rays, as long as they have been requested from a dentist
  • Fissure sealants
  • Fluoride applications
  • Local anaesthetic, if prescribed by a dentist

Hygienists are also trained to provide advice regarding dental health, including dietary advice to help prevent tooth decay and oral hygiene advice to show patients the correct home care to help keep teeth and gums healthy.

Why might I have to see a hygienist?

You may be advised to see the hygienist by your dentist if they feel that you would benefit from the services offered, such as if they have noticed a decline in your oral or gum health. You may also choose to book with the hygienist of your own accord if you feel that you would benefit from the treatment offered, even if you just wanted stain removal or cosmetic cleaning.

Will it hurt?

Scaling and polishing is generally pain-free and the hygienist will do everything they can to make the treatment as comfortable as possible. If you have any discomfort, the hygienist can offer to use a local anaesthetic to counteract this.

Do I need to see a dentist first?

Patients attend the hygienist via two different avenues. Some are referred by their dentist, while others are ‘direct access’, where they have booked an appointment directly without seeing the dentist first. This is also available to patients not registered with the practice. At the end of an appointment, the hygienist will advise how frequently they feel the patient would benefit from seeing the hygienist.

Do I have to attend regularly?

At each appointment, the hygienist will advise how often they feel you need to be seen. This can vary from a few weeks between appointments to 3 or 6 months or annually. Although we do not force you to attend this frequently, any advice that is given is to help you maintain the health of your mouth and gums.

How much will it cost?

The cost of the treatment varies on how much will need doing. The practice will always advise of the cost of the treatment before the appointment is booked.

Gum Disease

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infections of the tissues supporting the teeth. Gum disease is the largest cause of tooth loss in adults, and has been linked to other medical problems such as heart disease, strokes, diabetes and lung disease.

The two main forms of gum disease – Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and is characterised by bleeding gums while brushing. Long standing Gingivitis can turn into Periodontal Disease, as it starts to affect the bone which anchors the teeth, resulting in bone loss. This may be noticeable through wobbly teeth or teeth that have moved.

Causes of Gum Disease

Gum Disease is caused by Plaque, which is a soft sticky substance that builds up on your teeth and gums. Plaque is mostly made up of bacteria which feed off sugars in food and drink, which then produce acids as waste products. This can lead to minerals in the teeth being dissolved, causing decay. Plaque can also make your gums swollen and infected. If plaque is allowed to form, it will become hardened (calculus or tartar), generating a rough surface for more plaque to stick to.

How is Gum Disease prevented?

If your dentist feels you have gum disease, they will refer you to see a Dental Hygienist who is a specially trained professional in gum care.

The Dental Hygienist will clean your teeth thoroughly to remove all scale buildup, to help prevent the gum disease process. You cannot remove the calculus just by brushing, so the Dental Hygienist will remove it using special instruments. More importantly, they will show you how to remove all soft plaque successfully yourself, to help prevent the buildup of calculus.

Keep your smile healthy by seeing your Dental Hygienist!

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