One of the biggest shifts in modern day dentistry has been the move away from cosmetic dental treatments towards a more preventative and conservative approach. This means that many dentists in the UK at the moment are focusing on the need to preserve teeth, maintain oral health and only undertake cosmetic or restorative treatments if the need is absolute.
As part of this preventative and conservative approach the need to look after your teeth with good oral hygiene has taken a recent increase in the minds of many dental professionals. But how can they deliver this at the same time as providing excellent restorative work for the patients that need it?
In some dental practices oral hygiene education and preventative measures are undertaken by the dentist themselves, in the long run this can end up more expensive for the patient because the time of the dentist is rather expensive. It is also not o good for the dental practice as the experienced practitioner is spending his time on oral hygiene when it would be more beneficial to be treating patients with more complex dental problems.
This has led to the increase in the use of dental hygienists in many dental practices.
A dental hygienist is a highly qualified member of the dental professional team with dedicated training in looking after your oral health.
The role of the dental hygienist has increased recently with the ability for them to see patients directly without the need of a referring dentist. This has allowed patients direct access to the dental hygienists, which can only be a good thing for oral health.
Your hygienist will assess your oral hygiene at every appointment and monitor this on a sliding scale known as a BPI scale. This scale allows you to monitor your performance over an extended period of time to ensure that your oral hygiene is getting better.
Without good oral hygiene plaque has a tendency to build up on your teeth. It is around these plaque filled areas that the bacteria lurk, as the bacteria digests the sugar in your food. They excrete an acid and it is this acid which causes dental decay.
Keeping plaque at bay is a vital part of maintaining a good oral health routine and your hygienist will work with you to ensure that any plaque buildup is kept to an absolute minimum.
They will let you know about teeth brushing techniques, which is the right toothbrush to use, how to floss properly and which mouthwashes are best to use.
Your dental hygienist can also undertake deep scaling and polishing. This is the process whereby they ensure that the teeth are clean all the way down the root face even under your gum. This is an advanced procedure, but is often necessary for patients that have not had good oral hygiene in the past.
What role does the dental hygienists play?
Dr Graham Atkins from Confidence Dental care in Jersey says:
“Most people today are keen to keep their teeth for life. Our dental hygienists play a vital role in this respect, helping you maintain your oral health. All our other team members are fully qualified in dental nursing and have a broad understanding of the services we offer. They are available to advise you about treatment options and to answer any questions you may have. Their involvement is much more than the immediate personal contact you see. Behind the scenes, they ensure that everything runs smoothly, from cross infection control to accurate record keeping.”
So we strongly recommend that you heed the advice of your dentist and make regular appointments with your hygienist. Doing this will keep your overall dental costs down and ensure that you keep your teeth fit and healthy for life, just what everyone wants.