5 Things Your Dental Hygienist Does During Your Dental Cleaning
Posted on 9/11/2018 by Michael Mettler
|As you know, we recommend that everyone see your dental team regularly for cleaning and checkup appointments. The first part of your appointment takes place in the hygienist’s chair (Yea, Tiffany!), and then Dr. Martin comes in to look over your teeth to check for cavities and other problems.
If it has been a while since you’ve had your teeth cleaned, you may not know what to expect during the cleaning and hygiene portion of the appointment. Generally, your hygienist will do the following five things.
1. Gum Health Assessment
Because Tiffany will be working so closely to your gums, she will take this opportunity to assess the overall health of your gums. She'll look for problems like inflammation, redness, and sensitivity, which may indicate the early stages of gum disease.
If she does notice signs of gum disease, she will offer you pointers on how to correct the gum disease with better hygiene habits. For example, we may recommend a mouthwash to use daily to help kill the bacteria that cause gum disease, or we might recommend that you cut down on sugary drinks between meals.
Prophylaxis is the technical term for the cleaning and scraping that your dental hygienist performs to protect against future problems like gum disease and tooth decay. During prophylaxis, Tiffany uses an instrument to carefully remove tartar from the surfaces of your teeth. Tatar, also known as calculus, is a hardened substance comprised of bacteria, minerals, and saliva. She will clean all of the way down to and just below your gum line.
If it has been a while since you have been to the dentist for a cleaning, prophylaxis might be a bit uncomfortable. If you experience discomfort, we can apply a topical numbing gel and other desensitizing products to reduce discomfort during the procedure.
Just as you should do at home, Tiffany will use dental floss to clean between your teeth. This is an important step because bacteria between the teeth can easily cause decay to become established in these areas. If you have trouble flossing at home, take this opportunity to ask us for tips. We can show you how to angle the floss to reach certain teeth or recommend a different type of floss that is easier to squeeze between tight teeth.
When we are done scraping and flossing your teeth, we will polish the surfaces of your teeth. We use a polishing paste, often flavored with mint or cinnamon, to do so. The polishing paste is applied with a small rubber cup mounted on a handpiece, so you should not feel any discomfort when it is used on your teeth.
Polishing makes your teeth appear cleaner and brighter. This process also leaves the surface a bit smoother, so food particles and plaque are less likely to stick to your teeth in the weeks that follow.
5. Tips for Improvement
Based on where they find the most tartar and plaque, we will also offer you some advice for improving your own brushing and flossing habits. For instance, if Tiffany notices a lot of tartar on the backs of your lower incisors, she may instruct you to spend more time brushing these teeth. If she notices a lot of plaque between your back molars, she may recommend that you floss between these teeth more carefully.
Now you have a better idea of what to expect when you sit down in the hygienist’s chair. If you are looking for a new dentist in the Walla Walla Valley, contact Stone Creek Dental Care to schedule a checkup and cleaning appointment at 509-525-5902.