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  • Writer's pictureSmile House

Dental teamwork and the role of a hygienist

The dental clinic comprises more than just the dentist in Sutton. It's a whole team of professionals who work together to meet all the needs of our patients and one member of it that should never be overlooked is our hygienist. Let's see how they can help you!

Have you ever heard the old saying that pound-for-pound plumbers have saved more lives than doctors? This is certainly the truth with plumbing systems resulting in the near eradication of waterborne disease. There is very much an analogy with dental hygienists, who have probably saved more teeth than any dental professional alone ever could using fillings, crowns or other invasive methods. The dental hygienist very much emphasises prevention of dental issues, to stop them in their tracks. When it comes to our youngest patients whose adult teeth have not yet come through, the hygienist focusses on education, teaching full and thorough brushing techniques along with other aspects of dental health, including the role of using mouthwash and how important the ritual of morning and evening brushing is. This sets children up with all of the good habits that will minimise the need for future treatments and help them maintain a healthy smile throughout their life.

With adult patients, charting and problem spotting is our hygienist’s most important role although often overlooked. The first few minutes in the chair, a dental hygienist will quickly spot any potential risks or, if they are not qualified to diagnose or suggest treatment, they will pass on their observations to our regular dental team for a more in-depth explanation. Patients diagnosed with a long-term or chronic dental condition like gum disease will have regular appointments that will be scheduled with our hygienist. They are also able to monitor changes in the condition and highlight any radical change for the worse. This can include measuring pocket depth and suggesting changes in medication or treatment as required with our dentist in Sutton.

Scale and polish

The most common treatment at our dentist in Sutton that people associate with the hygienist is a scale and polish. It would be fair to call this procedure a deep clean, as its role is to remove plaque which has calcified into tartar.

Any plaque which is not rapidly removed from the teeth will slowly change into hard, calcified tartar, as the colony of bacteria living in the plaque slowly fortify themselves in place. Although plaque can be removed with diligent brushing, once tartar has formed, there are few options at home for resolving it, only bleaching it with home whitening kits, which hides rather than removes it.

Our hygienist will remove any areas of tartar using a dental drill, after which a light abrasive drill and a soft spinning disc is used to thoroughly clean all of the tooth surfaces, thus clearing away any residue and leaving a smooth polished surface, which is less susceptible to the build-up of plaque in the future.

It has the added advantage of giving you a whiter, healthier smile, as plaque is often a dark brown colour. Apart from plaque’s undesirable appearance, it also gives an anchor point for cavities to start to invade the enamel and also a location from which bacteria can attack the gum, forcing it to recede in the onset of gum disease.


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