Dentist vs Hygienists: Can a Dentist Clean My Teeth?
What is the point of seeing a hygienist when I already regularly see the dentist?
As a dental practice in London with a large team of dentists, hygienists, orthodontists and other specialists, we get asked this on a regular basis – and we suspect others wonder it but decide not to ask.
Dental Hygienist vs Dentist
During the regular check-up that you have with your dentist, their priority is not to clean your teeth – they need to perform an intra-oral and extra-oral risk assessment during each consultation, check for oral diseases such as oral cancer and gum disease, and take any necessary small and/or panoramic x-rays to discern signs of a problem that could become more serious if left untreated.
The dentist’s priority is to diagnose dental issues where they may occur and prescribe the relevant treatment to address it. It may be that temporary treatment is provided to alleviate symptoms of pain or discomfort, or additional treatment discussed (whether required by the dentist or requested by the patient).
Undoubtedly your dentist is qualified to address very importance aspects of your oral health, but cleaning your teeth is not one of them!
A dental hygienist is educated and trained specifically to treat and prevent oral diseases by thoroughly cleaning teeth and educating patients in how to look after their oral health at home.
Why Should I Have An Appointment With A Hygienist?
Your dentist will often suggest a hygienist appointment, though patients can request an appointment with the hygienist directly without seeing a dentist. Certainly, the majority of people would gain some benefit from a professional clean of their teeth with a dental hygienist.
A hygienist will have time to focus on each and every tooth, enabling them to assess full gum health and clean each tooth individually.
They can also use advanced, specialist equipment such as the Ultrasonic (water scaler) and AirFlow to clean your teeth comfortably and effectively.
Airflow technology uses a fine stream of powder mixed with high pressure water and air to carry out a procedure known as guided biofilm therapy. Bacteria which accumulates in the mouth create microcolonies (biofilm) on natural and restored dentition (crowns, implants, fillings etc). AirFlow is able to gently remove this biofilm (above and below the gum line) whilst preserving the natural tooth structure and without causing any destruction to the restorations.
An added bonus of AirFlow is its ability to remove heavy superficial stains which can result in the teeth looking a shade or two lighter post treatment. After this treatment, the teeth will look less stained and a little brighter. This may also boost confidence if the appearance of teeth has been a cause for concern. (It is important to remember not all patients are suitable for AirFlow.)
However, a hygienist appointment should not be seen as just a cosmetic treatment. Although a benefit of treatment is certainly to improve the appearance of your smile, there are ongoing benefits to oral health.
Most issues that arise in the mouth – from gum disease through to infection in the teeth – stem from the build-up of plaque and bacteria. If left unchecked, the problem worsens and relatively minor issues that could be easily rectified may become serious problems that require more extensive (and expensive) treatment.
Visiting a hygienist helps prevent this build-up in the mouth and so the risk of all oral conditions is greatly reduced.
One huge potential benefit of visiting the hygienist is therefore the unseen benefit of ultimately saving the patient from dental treatment in future.
What Longer-Term Problems Can Seeing A Hygienist Help Prevent?
Regular dental hygiene appointments can help address the following concerns:
– Bad breath (halitosis)
– Visible buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth
– Stained teeth
– Bleeding gums
– Receding gums
– Tooth sensitivity
– Tooth decay
– Loose teeth and even tooth loss
Many of the issues above can also impact confidence and overall wellbeing.
Poor oral hygiene can be a bacterial breeding ground which can lead to periodontitis (gum disease). Periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, strokes, generalised inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, and lung disease
A hygienist cannot prevent oral health problems alone – visiting a hygienist should be in addition to regular dental check-ups and maintaining proper oral hygiene at home. Your hygienist may also work with your periodontist to stabilize and control your oral health if you have been diagnosed with gum disease.
Where Can I Get My Teeth Cleaned Near Me?
At the Dental Surgery, you can expect the following during your dental hygiene appointment:
- A review of your past medical and dental history.
- An assessment of the current health of your mouth and surrounding tissue.
- Treatment using the latest technology to clean your teeth comfortably and effectively.
- Oral health education tailored to your dental health and lifestyle as well as personalized oral hygiene recommendations on what to use at home.
- A treatment plan for regular hygiene visits at intervals deemed to maintain your oral health, fresh breath, go over good teeth cleaning practices and prevent future issues.
- Recommendations on specialist treatment where necessary.
TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read)
The one thing to take away from this article is that preventative dentistry is key to avoiding costly (for your teeth and your pocket) dentistry in the future. Regular checkups with your dentist help to catch and treat issues early before they get out of hand, but fundamentally seeing a hygienist to help you maintain the health of your teeth and gums helps stop issues before they even start!
Do you have a specific question?
Get in touch with us today.