Dental hygiene is a field that can be confusing to some – why should I visit a hygienist? How does a hygienist differ from a dentist? Does going to the hygienist hurt? What happens if I don’t go? We’ve put together answers to some of the common questions around dental hygienists.

Why should I visit the hygienist?

Hygienists are trained professionals who can remove deposits from your teeth, including hard tartar build up, plaque, and staining. They also polish your teeth to give you that lovely smooth feeling. These skills not only keep your mouth clean, they can prevent gum disease, tooth decay and keep your breath fresh.

Recent research has also shown that gum disease contributes towards other serious chronic diseases such as Alzheimers disease, heart disease and diabetes. Preventing gum disease is more important now than it ever has been.

Why can’t the dentist clean my teeth for me at my check-up?

Your hygienist has a much longer appointment time to solely concentrate on the oral health of the gums and teeth. A dentist will assess and diagnose the state of your dental health and advise if any restorations need carrying out. But a hygienist will take a much more detailed look at the hygiene levels and provide you with personalised advice on how best to clean around any particularly difficult to get to teeth or any crowns, implants etc, and which products may be of use to you, such as using a sensitive toothpaste or interdental brushes.

Are hygienist procedures painful?

The majority of people experience minimal discomfort during dental hygiene sessions. Dental hygienists are trained to be gentle and considerate of patients’ comfort. The use of specialised tools helps minimise any potential pain or sensitivity during the cleaning process.

Some people may experience tooth sensitivity, especially if they have existing dental issues or conditions like receding gums. In such cases, communication with the dental hygienist is key. Informing them about any sensitivity or discomfort allows them to adjust their approach and use techniques or desensitising agents to enhance comfort.

What happens if I don’t go to the hygienist?

If you skip your dental hygiene appointments, bacteria will build up on your teeth in the form of plaque and tartar and cause issues with your gums and teeth. Your gums can gradually become inflamed (gingivitis) which may lead to gum disease where the gum and the bone holding the tooth in is lost and the teeth eventually become wobbly. Bacteria building up inside your gums can also make their way into the blood stream and to other areas of the body and affect other bodily systems. It is this mechanism that is thought to contribute to heart diease, Alzheimers disease, and diabetes.

Plaque builds up naturally over time and when it is left untreated your teeth can decay, causing a foul odour and eventually tooth loss. Build up on your teeth can also stain your enamel and cause your teeth to look dull.

Even if you brush and floss regularly, the hard truth is nearly 90% of all adults will, at one point in their lives, experience gum disease. The effects are damaging enough on their own but if you have expensive restorations like veneers, crowns, fillings, implants or even dentures, regular hygiene appointments are crucial to protect your investment.

My hygienist always tell me to improve my brushing at home. But is it not their job to clean my teeth for me?

A hygienist-patient relationship must work both ways. Part of your hygienist’s job is to support you in improving your own toothbrushing and interdental cleaning when you’re at home. The procedures a hygienist will carry out are there to provide you with a ‘clean slate’, so you can manage your own plaque control at home more effectively.

But if this is not maintained with thorough daily cleaning, plaque will start to build up again shortly after your hygienist appointment, and it will turn into calculus (tartar) if not removed. Calculus is defined as solidified plaque, and it cannot be removed by simply brushing away with your normal toothbrush. This is where your hygienist comes in, as it requires physical intervention with specialist tools to be removed.

In addition to this, plaque that is allowed to proliferate in the mouth causes inflamed gums and subsequent hygienist visits will be more painful and you may well have sore gums after seeing your hygienist. Keeping your teeth clean via twice-daily brushing and flossing will help prevent disease and sensitivity, so your hygienist visits will be more comfortable.

Will a hygienist clean make my teeth look better and freshen my breath?

Absolutely. Food particles trapped between teeth and around the gums provide a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to unpleasant odours. During your hygienist appointment, those hidden food bits are eliminated, and the bacteria that cause bad breath are removed, leaving your breath feeling fresh and you feeling confident.

Furthermore your hygienist has many ways of removing any external stains that have built up on your teeth to restore your teeth to their natural whiteness.

Get in touch

If you have missed a few dental hygiene appointments, don’t fret. Just get back on schedule and see your dentist and dental hygienist for a check-up and cleaning by calling Triangle Dental on 0118 942 7113.