A Dental Hygienist is an essential part of a successful dental team. One of the main goals as a dental hygienist is to achieve optimal oral health in patients. The dental hygienist works with the dentist to create a treatment plan to best suit the patient needs. Although a dental hygienist cannot diagnose disease, their opinion is respected and considered as an educated part of the dental team.
Providing dental health education about tooth care and diet
Removing plaque and calculus by scaling and polishing teeth
Taking impressions and/or dental radiographs of teeth
Applying prophylactic/antibacterial materials, fissure sealants and topical fluorides to help prevent tooth decay
Carrying out screening and monitoring procedures
Treating and helping to prevent gum disease
Ensuring that sterile conditions are maintained
Offering advice and encouragement to patients
Working closely with and under the instruction of dentists
Keeping up-to-date with new developments within the profession
Maintaining patient dental records
A scale and polish treatment removes plaque (soft, sticky, bacteria infested film) and tartar (calculus) deposits that build up on the teeth over time. Your teeth are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which help strengthen and protect the teeth. While this is a good thing, it also means that we tend to get a build-up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually build up over time, like limescale in a pipe or kettle. Usually it is tooth coloured and can easily be mistaken as part of the teeth, but it also can vary from brown to black in colour.
If the tartar is allowed to accumulate on the teeth it will unfortunately provide the right conditions for bacteria to thrive next to the gums. The purpose of the cleaning and polishing is to leave the surfaces of the teeth clean and smooth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them and you have a better chance of keeping the teeth clean during your regular home care.
The professional cleaning of teeth is sometimes referred to as prophylaxis It’s a Greek word which means “to prevent beforehand” – in this case, it helps prevent gum disease.
The dental hygienist uses specialized instruments to gently remove tartar without harming the teeth. These instruments include:
Ultrasonic instrument to knock larger pieces of tartar loose
Fine hand tools to remove smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces
Slow speed handpiece – a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. A special gritty paste is scooped into the cup and spun around on the teeth to make them shiny smooth.