Research shows that seven out of ten people do not visit the dentist or hygienist regularly. If you consider yourself to be one of them, then don’t worry; it’s never too late to start a good habit and keep it up.
Here is everything you can expect from your first visit to the hygienist:
A good hygienist should start by checking your medical history, if you take medication, do not forget to carry a list with you. Your hygienist should then find out how many times a day you brush your teeth and at what time; which toothbrush and toothpaste you use, if you floss or use any other cleaning aid and as well as ask about your diet.
All this information along with a thorough assessment of your gums and oral hygiene is really important for the hygienist to understand what you’re doing right and what might need improving.
Of course you will have been brushing your teeth for years, but this does not necessarily mean that you have been doing it correctly.
Ideally, you should be using a re-chargeable electric toothbrush with a 2-minute timer and a pressure indicator. This will ensure that you brush your teeth for at least 2 minutes twice a day, and that the pressure you put on your teeth will not be too hard that it causes your gums to recede.
It is also important that you are brushing your teeth at the correct time of day. Did you know that brushing your teeth straight after eating softens the enamel and causes tooth wear? Your diet has a big impact on your teeth and gum health, so it is very important that your hygienist gives you advice on what foods are best to ensure healthy teeth. For example, consuming acidic foods and drinks like fruit juices and carbonated drinks will demineralize the enamel making this more prone to decay.
Having your teeth cleaned by a hygienist will be more thorough than if a general dentist was to do it. If your cleaning appointment lasts less than 30 minutes, then it is very likely that it has not been done properly. The hygienist appointment should be longer if you are prone to, or already have, gum disease.
It is very important to realize that the hygienist is not only going to clean your teeth; there is a lot more to it than that! The removal of stains or teeth whitening is secondary to the health of your gums. It is the plaque between your teeth and gums that will make your gums unhealthy if not cleaned regularly. This along with the valuable advice and information that she gives you is that makes it so important to visit her twice a year.
The hygienist should be there to guide you and teach you how to brush your teeth and take care of your gums.
Next month I will write about what you should expect in a visit to the dentist.
Dr Gina Vega, Principal Dentist.