What is a dental hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a dental professional specifically trained to care for the periodontal tissues and framework. Periodontal tissues are the support mechanism for your teeth made up of gums, attachment fibres to teeth and supporting bone.
A dental hygienist also routinely provides oral health instruction and advice; they may diagnose and treatment plan for the care of periodontal disease (gum disease).
A dental hygienist can provide preventative treatments like the application of fluoride varnish to prevent, or reverse early, tooth decay, and provide fissure sealants to young people's teeth to keep them free from damage.
Signs and symptoms of gum disease
- Bad breath
- A bad taste that lingers
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing or spontaneously
- Wobbly adult teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Any change in the way your teeth meet when you bite
Why are healthy gums important?
There are the more obvious reasons for healthy gums, these are:
- Fresh breath
- No bleeding
- Stable teeth with no movement
- Gums with nice pink colour
The less well-known reasons are that swollen, red and bleeding gums are signs of inflammation. Inflammation is associated with many inflammatory mediators like cytokines, the same inflammatory mediators have been found to be associated with coronary heart disease and most recently there has been a scientific study that found a correlation between these same inflammatory mediators and Alzheimer’s disease.
This means that there is an association between poor gum health and poor health in the rest of the body.
What does a dental hygienist do?
Dental hygienists are highly skilled and trained to be compassionate and treat you gently. They give fantastic advice on how to control plaque.
Plaque is the white sticky substance that builds up on your teeth and is laden with millions of harmful bacteria.
As well as treating your gums a hygienist demonstrates the very best way, and the most helpful tools, to help keep the plaque at bay. In doing this they improve the health of your gums and help maintain your periodontal structure.
This improvement in periodontal health helps to decrease the detrimental effect on the health of your body.
Dr. Claire Hughes