a dental hygienist talking to a patient
Our dental hygienists play an integral part in improving and maintaining our patient’s oral health.

Their main work is to prevent and treat gum disease. Their most important role is showing you the best way to clean your teeth effectively at home.

The hygienists work closely with the dentists so that your care is best tailored to your needs.

Periodontal disease (Gum disease) is caused by failing to adequately remove plaque deposits from the teeth and gums, and made worse by smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Prevention of Periodontal Disease (Gum disease)

  • Brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste (1350ppm fluoride or above)
  • Brushing last thing at night and on one other occasion.
  • Spitting out after brushing and not rinsing
  • Remove plaque effectively using methods shown by the dental team

Daily effective plaque removal is more important to periodontal health than scaling and polishing by the clinical team.
  • Brush gum line AND each tooth twice daily (before bed and at least on one other occasion)
  • Clean daily between the teeth to below the gum line before tooth brushing
  • For small spaces between the teeth: use dental floss or tape
  • For larger spaces: use interdental or single tufted brushes
  • Around orthodontic appliances and bridges, use kits suggested by your orthodontist
  • Do not smoke
  • Maintain good diabetes control
  • Be aware that some medications may affect gingival health

What is the hygienist?

Dental hygienists are specially trained to work with the dentist in giving care to patients.

They play an important role in dental health care and are mainly concerned with gum health, showing people correct home care and applying preventive materials to the teeth and gums.

What is the hygienist's role in the practice?

The hygienist's main role is to professionally clean the teeth for the patient. This is usually called scaling and polishing. However, perhaps their most important role is showing the patient the best way to keep the teeth free of plaque. They also give advice on diet and preventing dental decay. The hygienist will work with your dentist to provide care tailored to your needs.

Does every practice have a hygienist?

Not all practices have a hygienist. However, more of them now offer this as part of the service to patients, using part-time and full-time hygienists. Hygienists can now work when a dentist is not there, as long as the patient has been seen by the dentist and the treatment is prescribed for the patient, in the last 12 months.

Why is this treatment important?

Regular professional cleaning combined with looking after your teeth and gums well at home will help keep your mouth healthy. A clean and healthy mouth will improve your appearance, help you to keep your teeth and give you fresh breath.

Can a hygienist help prevent dental disease?

This is what the training of the hygienist is all about. Carefully removing the hard deposits of calculus (tartar) that build upon the teeth and teaching you how to prevent it reforming, will go a long way to slowing the progress of gum disease.

By discussing your diet, and recommending other preventive measures, the rate at which your teeth decay can also be slowed down. Regular visits and advice will help build your confidence in maintaining your oral health and achieving a healthy mouth.

Another very important part of the hygienist's work is giving regular instruction and advice on home care. The hygienist may also suggest giving up smoking, as this will reduce staining. Recent research has also shown that smokers have more gum disease and lose more teeth than non­smokers. Your hygienist will be able to advise you on various ways of giving up smoking.

Why doesn't the dentist do this work?

Some dentists will carry out this type of work. However, many now recognise that the hygienist has been specially trained to carry out scaling and polishing and can spend longer with you. They are also experts at teaching you how to look after your teeth and gums. Often the hygienist will spend a number of appointments getting the gums healthy ready for the dentist to restore the teeth with crowns and fillings.

Will the treatment hurt?

Scaling and polishing is usually pain-free. However, if you do have any discomfort the hygienist can use anesthetic creams, or give you some local anesthetic. It is important that you let the hygienist know at the time so they can help with any discomfort.

What can I do to help the hygienist?

You can do a great deal to help yourself and the hygienist, as you are in control of your mouth between visits to the practice. Your hygienist will have shown you how to remove plaque with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
You will also have been shown how to clean between your teeth with floss, tape or interdental brushes.

There are many oral care products now available including specialist toothpastes, powered toothbrushes and mouthwashes. Your hygienist will recommend those that are best for you.

We recommend you follow three simple steps to help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
  • brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • cut down on how often you have sugary snacks and drinks
  • visit your dentist at least once a year

Cutting down the amount of sugar in your diet and the number of times that you eat during the day, can help to reduce decay. Your hygienist can help you by looking at your decay problem, your diet and by making some recommendations for you to consider.

Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can also help to prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which in turn cancels out the acid produced in your mouth after drinking and eating.