The essential daily duties of the hygienist in the dental practice include giving patients a thorough and professional teeth cleaning. This is sometimes referred to as ’scaling and polishing’ and will involve the removal of plaque from teeth surfaces and the gum area around the roots. As well as assisting the dentist with this task, they will explain to patients the best way to counter plaque build-up in the first place, by regular brushing. They will also impress the need to employ other techniques, such as flossing, or using fluoride mouth rinses.
As your food intake plays such a vital part in oral health, the hygienist will provide advice about the effects of excess sugar. Above all, they will give an in-depth and all-round picture of the optimum methods of combating tooth decay.
As well as being concerned with the well-being of your teeth and gums, hygienists are now fully-trained to take dental X-rays. They will have been issued with the relevant certification for using this machinery. X-ray images are of vital importance to the dentist to enable him to diagnose dental issues and decide on the most appropriate treatment.
Although not every dental practice in the UK possesses a trained hygienist, the numbers offering this service are increasing all the time. Hygienists attached to a surgery can either be part-time or full-time. They can work entirely unsupervised by dentists, with the proviso that you have been seen by your dentist and he has prescribed the treatment. In surgeries where there is no hygienist, the dentist can refer you to a practice that does offer this service.
There are dentists who will also carry out hygiene treatment, but most appreciate that a trained hygienist will be more adept at performing this role, will provide an excellent scaling and polishing technique, and can do so over a longer time. Prior to restorative treatment (crowns or fillings) the hygienist will spend preparatory appointments maintaining healthy gums
The importance of good oral hygiene
In order to maintain consistent levels of good oral health, regular cleaning by a trained professional is recommended. Although you can, and must, look after your teeth at home, the extra degree of attention offered at a dental surgery will ensure optimum health. Early stages of tooth decay can also be diagnosed and reacted to. When you have well brushed and flossed teeth, not only will your overall appearance appear healthy, you’ll have nice fresh breath.
One of the most important aspects of any hygienist’s job is in helping to pre-empt tooth decay. In practical terms this is achieved by removing the tartar deposits (calculus) from your teeth. The hygienist will also impress how you can prevent the build-up of calculus, as this will stop gum disease spreading.