How Often Should You See A Dental Hygienist?

Local dentist Mike Allen offers his thoughts on this sometimes underused facility.

From a young age, we are told that going to see the dentist (however much we don’t want to) is essential if we want to have healthy teeth and not suffer from toothache. It is only relatively recently though that patients have also been encouraged to see the hygienist. A growing number of our Burton patients now do so and most would agree that doing this is a very good thing.

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, we have three hygienists, Alison Lowe, Lindsey Reece-Jones and Antonia Kemp, available to see you, underlying the importance that we place on the role that they carry out.

What does a hygienist do?

The role of a hygienist s largely a preventative one. The procedure that they are best known for is the scale and polish. This is a non invasive procedure that is used to remove tartar, the hardened form of plaque that builds up on the teeth and gum line, and which is next to impossible to remove with home brushing, or even flossing.

They are also there in an educational role and to help you to build up your cleaning regimen so that it is as effective as possible. This not only includes advice on brushing and flossing techniques, but also general advice such as that relating to your diet.

Who should see a dental hygienist?

If you ask any dental professional, they will tell you that everybody should see a hygienist regularly. We would agree with that, although certain groups of people may need to see them more regularly than others. Due to illness, medication or simply lifestyle, some patients are more prone to gum disease than others. If not treated, patients can find that they have periodontitis, a particularly serious form of gum disease that can eventually lead to tooth loss.

How often should you see them?

The general consensus is that six monthly appointments are sufficient for most people, providing that you otherwise take good care of your teeth. There are numerous people though who may wish to consider visiting the hygienist more frequently, and indeed, some patients arrange three monthly appointments, primarily to have their teeth professionally cleaned.

The reasons for this decision will depend on the person, but the following are some likely scenarios.

Diabetics

Due to their condition, patients with diabetes bodies can be less efficient at fighting the bacteria that collects in the mouth. This means that, even with the best brushing and flossing in the world, bacterial build up is likely and their teeth and gums are going to be affected much more quickly than those of a healthy patient. For those in this situation or who are affected by an illness that leads to less resistance, we recommend three monthly appointments. As and when your situation changes, the regularity of your appointments can be adjusted according to your needs.

Smokers and drinkers

As we have mentioned in previous blogs, smoking and regular drinking are poor bedfellows if you want to have healthy teeth and gums. In fact, smoking is one of the very worst things that you can do, and not only gum disease, but oral cancers are a real possibility if you smoke and/or drink excessively and regularly. Our recommendation would be for patients to stop smoking altogether, but if you can’t, or during the process where you gradually cut down, we suggest three monthly cleanings to keep your gums in better condition.

Whiter teeth

Few people probably realise that the straightforward scale and polish procedure that our hygienists provide is a good way of improving the appearance of your teeth. It won’t whiten them to the same degree as a professional teeth whitening treatment, and will make no difference where the discolouration comes from a darkening dentin as time goes on. What it will do is remove much surface staining from the teeth. Even if we don’t smoke, most of us drink or eat teeth staining foods on a daily basis. Examples of this include tea and coffee, as well as red wine. Dark berries and soya sauce are just a couple of examples of foods that stain.

This type of staining usually builds up over a period of time and having your teeth cleaned in this way, every three months or so, is a great way to help keep them looking at their best.

While modern dentistry is now able to effectively treat most dental problems in a manner that restores the function of damaged teeth, and often their appearance too; few would argue that it is still better to prevent the need for treatment in the first place. This involves our dietary habits, our teeth cleaning regime and regular dental care. An important part of this is your hygienist appointments. If you don’t already see a hygienist, now is the time to make an appointment at our Burton dental practice. To book yours, please call Mike Allen’s Dental Practice on 01283 845345.