What is a Dental Hygienist?

It’s National Dental Hygiene Month! And who’s one of the first friendly faces you see when you come in for your appointment? A dental hygienist.

Our dental hygienists work hard to make sure that your smile is clean, and that you’re prepared for any treatments you have planned with us. They help monitor your oral health, take x-rays of your teeth, and more. Let’s take a look at why seeing a dental hygienist is a crucial part of your cleaning appointments.

How Do Dental Hygienists Train?

A big difference between dentists and dental hygienists is the amount of education and training that is needed. Dentists endure many years of school, especially when going into a specific dental field. Dental hygienists typically only need a two-year associate’s degree and certification to get started with their dental careers.

Like any other medical or dental student, a hygienist goes through both classroom studies and clinical training, mostly on-site at the schools themselves. To become a licensed dental hygienist, they must complete a written test and a clinical exam to demonstrate their competence.

However, a dental hygienist cannot replace your dentist. Your dentist will be the one performing fillings, root canals, crafting dental devices, and more. But your dental hygienist can help you care for your smile in the smaller ways, such as proper brushing and flossing techniques for example.

What To Expect During a Dental Hygiene Appointment

A dental hygiene appointment is not just a quick cleaning and check-up by your dentist. There’s a whole lot more that needs to be looked after!

  • Conduct and develop x-rays: Each visit requires an x-ray scan of your smile, to ensure that your teeth are looking good underneath the gums as well.
  • Update conditions of your teeth: Along with x-rays, a dental practice wants to keep track of your condition, monitoring potential warning signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and more.
  • Remove plaque and tartar: Plaque and tartar can build up on the surfaces of your teeth, so it’s important that these substances be removed before they damage your teeth any further.
  • Apply sealants or fluoride: Sealants and fluoride treatments can help prevent plaque and bacteria from eroding your teeth, as they apply a physical protective coating on your teeth.
  • Teach proper oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing aren’t the only techniques that a dental hygienist can show you. Other proper at-home care can include taking care of dental devices, helping children with their dental care, or which tools to choose from.
  • Take impressions of patients’ teeth: If you’re due for a dental implant, dental bridge, denture, braces, or other device, a dental hygienist may be the one who takes an impression of your teeth. This process typically involves trays filled with a setting resin, where the patient places their teeth. The resin hardens around the teeth, and is then removed, leaving an impression that a lab will use to create a model of your teeth and your dental device.
  • Assist the dentist: Dental hygienists don’t disappear when your dentist comes around either, but assist the dentist in further cleaning your teeth and keeping them updated on your condition.

Why is Oral Hygiene So Important?

A dental hygienist is always there to answer your oral health questions. Whether you need advice on what toothbrush is best, what mouthwash to use, or how to floss better, a dental hygienist can help. But why is hygiene so important?

Your teeth may be one of the hardest substances in your body, but they are still susceptible to the smallest invaders in cavity-causing bacteria. These bacteria can also infect your gums and cause redness, swelling, bleeding, and more. Since your gums are part of the infrastructure that holds your teeth in place, the deterioration of these vital tissues can spell trouble for your smile.

Patients who neglect their oral health either don’t brush and floss regularly, or have a fear of the dentist. As a result, they may avoid the dentist, but this can be even more damaging. Bacteria and food particles can fester, damaged teeth can become necrotized, or your teeth could yellow and darken from stains. Dentists and dental hygienists have the tools and treatments that can repair minor damage to your teeth, so you can avoid more extensive and expensive procedures in the future.

Why is a Complete Smile Important?

If patients still avoid visiting the dentist, they may experience a side effect known as tooth loss. When tooth loss occurs, it can be difficult for a patient to regain that confidence they once had. Losing teeth can also negatively impact your oral health, leaving your mouth exposed to bacteria and possible infections. Over time, your jawbone could start to deteriorate without the stimulation of your teeth. But here at Dental Smiles at Dacula, we have a few treatments and dental devices to set you on your way to oral health success again.

Here are just a few examples.

  • Dental Implants: Dental implants are individual, artificial teeth that can be embedded directly into the area where a missing tooth once was. They are constructed from titanium and porcelain, two highly biocompatible materials that are healthy for you and your recovering jawbone.
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