22 Feb My breath doesn’t smell; why do I need to see the Hygienist?!
There is a common misconception that patients are recommended to see the Hygienist because (a) their breath smells, or (b) it’s another way my dental practice are trying to make money.
Incorrect on both counts – let me explain why.
Good dental health is a state created by a balance of low risk of tooth decay, low risk of gum disease and low risk of mouth cancer. There are lots of contributing factors to this. We all know we are supposed to brush our teeth for two minutes twice a day and this is a good habit most of us establish from a very young age. So why then do we need to floss and use those fiddly little brushes in between our teeth? Brushing alone only covers about 60-65% of the tooth surfaces so even if we are the best tooth brushers in the world, we are missing out a lot of those tooth surfaces when we only brush twice daily.
So what? Plaque contains bacteria which leads to inflammation of the gums and is one of the factors that cause tooth decay. Gum inflammation can lead to gingivitis and gum disease, and over a long period may result in premature tooth loss and also bad breath. With fixed braces on, there are even more surfaces to clean to make sure the plaque is removed. Plaque accumulation combined with frequent sugar intake leads to tooth decay and holes in teeth needing fillings.
So why do I need a Hygienist to tell me what to do? I’ve been brushing my teeth for years!
Hygienists are perfectly placed to spend time helping everyone in the family make sure they are cleaning their teeth effectively and keeping their risk factors for decay, gum disease and mouth cancer as low as achievable.
Children seeing the Hygienist will get 1-2-1 help in how to brush their teeth effectively, use toothpaste and keep decay at bay with good eating habits. Establishing good habits in childhood will set them up for a lifetime of good oral health, where their experience of the dental practice will be a positive experience. It will be about ensuring they are maintaining good oral health, rather than having problems dealt with. Hygienists are trained to apply fluoride to children’s teeth – regular fluoride varnish application is a key part of delivering better oral health and ensuring children have a low risk of tooth decay. We recommend this is done every six months.
Will me seeing the Hygienist make the Practice lots of money?
Conversely no – think about it. We are committed to you improving your oral health by prevention. Establishing good habits that lead to better oral health – lower risk of tooth decay, gum disease and oral cancer, creates less work for us a dental team. We won’t have cavities or gum disease to treat if all our patients implement the messages we are delivering on better oral health. So why as a business do we want that? While dentistry is a business, it is a business of healthcare – we care about your oral health. Happy patients with a good standard of oral health who are motivated to maintain this for life are our ultimate goal. And then our goal is about maintaining your oral health for life.
So next time we recommend you or your child sees the Hygienist, it’s not because we think your breath smells!