What is a Dental Hygienist?

Dental hygienists are a valuable part of any dental team.

Some of their jobs include:

  • Performing oral health assessments
  • Providing nutritional counseling and self-care programs to prevent disease
  • Examining head, neck, and oral regions for disease
  • Taking and processes x-rays and performs other diagnostic tests
  • Providing services that help patients prevent gum diseases and cavities; examples include removing deposits from teeth and applying sealants and fluoride to prevent decay
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Tooth Whitening

Tooth whitening is a bleaching process that lightens discoloration of enamel and dentin. A gel is placed in a thin bleaching tray that fits over your teeth. As hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient in the gel, is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel and dentin bleaches the colored substances. Only the tooth is made lighter, while the structure of the tooth is unchanged. Results are often seen after the first application, but ideal results occur when the process is continued for 10 - 14 days.

Is it safe? YES! Research and clinical studies indicate that whitening teeth with hydrogen peroxide under the supervision of a dentist/hygienist is safe for teeth and gums. In fact, many dentists/hygienist's consider this whitening process the safest cosmetic dental procedure today.

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Tooth Decay

Your teeth are covered with a sticky film bacteria, called plaque. Plaque bacteria use sugar and starch in food as a source of energy. The bacteria converts the sugar or starch into harmful acids that attack tooth enamel for as long as 20 minutes or more. Repeated attacks may cause the enamel to break down, resulting in cavities.

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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease is is a gum infection that can damage the tissues and bone around the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.

Warning signs that you need to be aware of are:

  • Bleeding from your gums when you clean your teeth
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bad breath or bad taste
  • Loose teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Pus in-between your teeth and gums when you press down on the gums
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down
  • Any changes in the fit of partial dentures

It is possible not to have these warning signs and still have gum disease. Most people don not feel pain with the disease. This is why regular checkups are important.

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Toothbrushes and Brushing Technique

When choosing the right toothbrush, choose one with soft bristles to protect your teeth enamel. Also, find a head that is small enough to comfortably reach all of your teeth.

Proper brushing technique starts with holding the bristles of the brush along your gumline at a 45 degree angle. Move the brush gently, but firmly, with small circular motions. Brush two or three teeth at a time, then move to the next teeth, overlapping slightly.

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Flossing

Most cavities and gum disease begin between your teeth, where bristles of your toothbrush just can't reach. That's why it's vital to your dental health that you floss at least once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth.

Flossing every tooth is VERY IMPORTANT. Slide the floss up the side of your tooth and down below the gumline. Repeat the process for each tooth.

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Sealants

A sealant is a plastic material that is usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth-premolars and molars. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant acts as a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids.

As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. During your regular dental visits, your dentist/hygienist will check the condition of the sealants and reapply them when necessary. Sealants usually last several years.

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Fluoride

Fluoride is a nutrient essential in the formation of sound teeth and bones. Fluoride provides the most effective method for prevention and control of dental cavities. It is important for optimum oral health for all ages.

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Preventative Dental Care