How Often Should You See a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists are mid-level dental practitioners (similar to a Registered Nurse) who are licensed to provide therapeutic oral health services and screen for disease. You’ll see them during your “cleaning” appointments, even though they perform far more than just a cleaning.

During your appointment with a dental hygienist — and depending on which state you’re in — you’ll be able to receive services such as:

• Periodontal evaluation
• Oral cancer screening
• Medical screening
• Prophylaxis
• Soft tissue laser therapy for gum disease and cold sores
• Local anesthetic, prior to your dental work
• Periodontal therapy
• Oral hygiene instruction
• Nutritional counseling
• Radiographs (X-rays)
• Sealant placement
• Desensitizing treatments
• Sedation monitoring

In school (hygienists hold an Associate or Bachelors degree) they are also trained to recognize the oral signs and symptoms of systemic health conditions and diseases.

More Than Just Cleaning Your Teeth

Your hygienist is probably one of the people that you see the most in a dental office. They see you for your cleaning, and thus have the most “hands on” time when it comes to your mouth.

It should come as no surprise then, when hygienists pinpoint undiagnosed medical concerns and diseases that have oral side effects. Health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, anemia, AIDS/HIV, and cancer are just a few examples of situations that may cause oral side effects that your dental hygienist may observe during an appointment.

Seeing a hygienist regularly doesn’t just keep your teeth healthy – it could save your life!

Regular Tartar Removal

Dental calculus — commonly referred to as “tartar” — is calcified plaque that’s accumulated across teeth and root surfaces (just under the edges of your gums.) Even if you brush and floss daily, some of the areas in your mouth will tend to develop buildup.

Unfortunately, calculus can’t be removed with conventional brushing and flossing. Being that it harbors disease-causing bacteria, tartar buildup will lead to tissue detachment, gum recession, and bone loss.

Seeing a hygienist regularly provides an opportunity to have all of the buildup removed, so that your oral health is easier to maintain. For most healthy individuals, a cleaning is recommended every six months.

However, people with a history of gum disease or who tend to have heavy buildup may need to see their hygienist every 3-4 months.

What’s Involved in a “Cleaning?”

During a prophylactic (preventative) cleaning, which is what most people schedule, your hygienist will use manual scalers and/or an ultrasonic scaler to loosen and remove both hard and soft buildup. The hygienist will typically work from different angles, cleaning surfaces of each teeth from that direction before moving to a different position and cleaning from those angles. This method is for ergonomic and efficiency purposes, but to the average person it can feel as if their hygienist is “skipping around” throughout their mouth.

Once all of the teeth are scaled free of debris, your hygienist will use a soft rubber-cup or air-polisher to polish away surface stains. You’ll have a smoother, brighter surface left behind!

Book Your Checkup Today

If it’s been more than six months since your last cleaning, your dental health could be at risk. Schedule your next visit today with a Kois Trained Dentist.