If you have not had a professional teeth cleaning in a while, you may have forgotten what to expect during this type of visit. Seeing your dentist consistently for cleanings and evaluations of the mouth is an essential aspect of maintaining good oral health. At Serene Smiles, our goal is to make all of our patients in Westerville and the surrounding areas as comfortable as possible during every procedure, including dental cleanings.
What is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional who undergoes two years of specialized training in the area of dental hygiene. Dental hygienists are highly educated individuals who love educating their patients in matters of oral health and home care.
Dental hygienists work under the direct supervision of licensed dentists and provide a variety of preventive and therapeutic services to their patients.
What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?
Dental hygienists do much more than simply clean teeth. They are the dental professional who becomes most familiar with a patient’s teeth because they spend the most time evaluating the mouth while cleaning. Here are the important things that your dental hygienist does during a routine cleaning.
Removal of Bacterial Buildup
One important aspect of the dental cleaning is the removal of all bacterial buildup from the teeth and gums. Bacteria in the mouth lives in dental plaque and tartar buildup. Plaque is the soft, white material that accumulates on the teeth every day. You can remove plaque with a toothbrush and floss.
When you do not remove plaque, it begins to mineralize (or harden) into tartar buildup that you cannot remove simply with a toothbrush and floss. Your dental hygienist must remove it with specialized dental instruments. During a dental cleaning, your hygienist removes all forms of bacterial buildup from the teeth, giving you a “clean slate”.
Your gum tissues can heal from any damage caused by the bacteria after this cleaning as you continue to keep the teeth clean with your home care.
One of the most important functions of a dental hygienist is his or her ability to educate their patients on risk factors and home care. Your hygienist will help you understand the various areas of dental disease you are particularly at risk for, and how you can combat those risk factors with altering your home oral hygiene routine.
Perhaps you are missing a specific area in the mouth when you brush or floss. Perhaps your technique when flossing isn’t effectively removing dental plaque. Your hygienist will identify these problem areas and educate you in the proper way to address them. He or she can also give you demonstrations of proper brushing and flossing techniques. We believe that showing you how to do something is more effective than just telling you how to do it.
Take Necessary Dental X-rays
At certain dental cleaning visits, your hygienist will also take x-rays to assess the current state of health in your mouth. While a dental hygienist will typically not make a diagnosis from the x-rays, he or she will communicate any areas of concern to the dentist and to you.
Dental x-rays are necessary to identify dental diseases in their earliest stages. Without x-rays, we would not be able to catch cavities before they become large visible holes in the teeth or gum disease before it causes visible bone loss. Dental treatment for these problems is always less expensive and less extensive when we catch them early!
Oral Cancer Screening
As your dental hygienist is cleaning your teeth, he or she is also evaluating the entire inside of the oral cavity. An oral cancer screening is the close inspection of the soft tissue lining the inside of the mouth for evidence of changes that are potentially cancerous. The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends an oral cancer screening by a licensed dental professional for every adult at least once per year.
When caught early, oral cancer responds well to treatment, and patients can live long healthy lives afterward. Don’t miss your oral cancer screening by putting off dental visits.
More Questions about Your Routine Dental Cleaning?
We love helping our Westerville patients maintain great oral health through consistent dental visits. Professional teeth cleanings are a vital part of dental health. Call today to schedule your dental cleaning and check-up at Serene Smiles.