When you schedule an appointment for your twice-yearly routine dental cleanings, you are likely given an appointment first, with a dental hygienist. After you see the hygienist, you will meet shortly with the dentist themselves. Dental hygienist week is April 11-17, so now is a great time to recognize all the hard work these dental professionals do! Here is a list of the key tasks that you can expect a dental hygienist to complete when you have an appointment with one for a routine dental screening and cleaning.
Screening for Oral Cancers
One of the first things a dental hygienist does during your appointment is to examine your mouth, jaw, tongue and throat for various types of oral cancers. Most people do not even realize that this is something done during a routine dental visit. Both dental hygienists and dentists are trained to look for signs of various cancers, including bumps, lumps, sores and swelling. If something is noticed, the dental professional may refer you out for further evaluation. If nothing is noticed, the appointment continues.
One of the most important procedures that you can expect from a dental hygienist is cleaning the teeth. Routine cleaning, including scaling and polishing the teeth, is typically done by a dental hygienist, rather than a dentist. The hygienist will remove all of the plaque and build-up on and around your teeth. This will leave you with healthy and shiny pearly white teeth! Teeth cleaning is typically the part of the appointment that takes the longest.
Examining for Tooth Decay
While a dental hygienist is attending to you during a routine dental visit, they will take the time to examine your teeth for tooth decay. There are many signs of tooth decay that will be visible to the naked eye. However, a dental hygienist may also use tools, such as a sickle probe, to probe your teeth. A sickle probe checks the hardness of your teeth, and if a tooth is rotted or has decay, the probe may sink into the tooth, indicating that something is amiss. If a hygienist suspects tooth decay, an x-ray may be ordered or the dentist may personally take a closer look.
Checking Your Periodontal Health
Periodontal disease, also more commonly known as gum disease, is a common dental problem. Fortunately though, your gums will give you and your dental hygienist signs that something is wrong, giving you time to correct the issues. Your gums may become red, inflamed, or may bleed. They may also begin to recede and leave pockets behind as they do so. A dental hygienist will examine your gums. They will measure your gums and look for pockets, all of which may indicate gum disease. They can then come up with a plan to help stop the gum disease in its tracks.
Educating You on Tooth Care
The final thing you can expect from a dental hygienist during a routine appointment is education on your tooth care. No one is perfect, and you may have dental care that you can improve upon. A dental hygienist will talk with you at the end of your appointment. They will provide you with tips on how to better care for your teeth. This may range from letting you know you need to floss more frequently to asking you to come in for more frequent professional cleanings.
Contact Smiles by Shields Dentistry
It is recommended that everyone have their teeth cleaned and looked at by a professional at least twice a year. Those who have poor dental health or health conditions that may affect their teeth may need to have their teeth cleaned and cared for more frequently. Dental hygienists play a key role in a dental office, helping with routine appointments and cleanings. If you need your teeth cleaned, Smiles by Shields is here to help you. We are a family-owned and operated dental practice in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Shields focuses on holistic dentistry and believes that oral wellness can contribute to whole-body wellness. She offers holistic, comprehensive, and cosmetic dental services and provides them in a calm, caring environment. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.