What A Dental Hygienist Does
If you want to keep your teeth for life and improve your overall health, dental hygienists will help you achieve that. A dental hygienist is an important part of the dental team because they play a major role in preventingm you developing oral health problems.
All our hygienists have studied a three year Bachelor of Oral Health degree and are dual qualified as dental hygienist and dental therapist. Oral Health Therapists are highly skilled professionals that provide you with long term oral health care.
- Assess your overall oral health. This includes your teeth, gums, cheeks and tongue
- They provide information on how to maintain good oral health
- They will give you nutritional advice and advice on daily homecare care, such as brushing technique and flossing.
Our wellington dental hygienists will do a full assessment of your gums. This includes taking measurements of pocketing around the teeth, measuring recession and assessing the overall health of your gums.
Dental hygienists treat gum disease and prevent decay by removing plaque, calculus and staining from your teeth. They can also apply sealants, fluoride and take impressions of your teeth if needed.
There are two different types of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Periodontitis is the more serious of the two and is becoming the most common reason for people to lose their teeth now that we are not losing our teeth from tooth decay so much.
At your hygiene appointment a periodontal exam is done by gently probing your gums. The probe is measuring swelling of your gums, bone loss and whether the gums bleed easily or not. Pocketing is the most important measurement. The deeper the pocket around your tooth, the more severe the gum disease.
Healthy gums have a pocket depth of about 0-3mm with no bleeding or sensitivity. The gums will look pink and firm.
Good homecare is needed and regular visits to your Wellington dental hygienist of once or twice per year is recommended to maintain good oral health.
Gingivitis is gum disease that is reversible, with pocket depths between 3-4mm. Gingivitis is caused by plaque, the soft white mushy substance you see on your teeth when you haven’t brushed them for a day. Some of this plaque will become mineralized, become hard and is very hard to remove from your teeth. The name for this mineralized plaque is calculus, or you may have heard it called tartar. When calculus builds up on your teeth it causes the gum tissue to become infected. Your gums may appear red and swollen with some bleeding and tenderness. Often patients may not be aware they have gingivitis.
Gingivitiis is treated with good daily homecare (brushing and flossing) and regular removal of plaque and calculus by your dental hygienist.
If gingivitis is left untreated the disease will progress to periodontal disease. Symptoms are more visible than gingivitis with gums becoming more swollen and bleeding easily on probing. Some patients may experience bleeding when brushing or eating and their gums can become tender. Pocket depths will be between 5-7mm because the gum becomes detached from your tooth and your bone is slowly being lost.
The bacteria multiplies and invades the gum tissue spreading to the underlying bone that supports the teeth. At this stage we need to act now, these mineralized deposits are sitting below the gum line causing bone loss. A deep clean will be needed and this may be over a few appointments. Daily homecare is very important in stabilizing periodontal disease and recommendations will be given to each patient depending on there needs. Regular hygiene visits of 3 months will be needed to start with.
Advanced periodontal disease is further deterioration of the teeth and bone. Due to the loss of bone supporting the teeth, the teeth will become loose and roots will become exposed. Bacteria will enter the blood vessels and travel to vital organs. Some teeth may need to be removed and a referral to a periodontists may be needed. Treatment of advanced periodontal disease will need multiple appointments and regular recall of 3 months will be needed.
Treatment for all stages can sometimes be uncomfortable, tender or sensitive. Our Dental Hygienist are here for you and want to make your treatment as comfortable as possible. Try not to worry or be anxious, there are products to help manage this, just let your hygienist know and they can discuss the options with you.
Good oral heath is important for your overall heath!