What to Expect on Your Dental Hygiene Visit

Dental hygiene visits are important for two reasons. First, they allow the dentist to do what you cannot—do a thorough exam of your mouth, gums, teeth, and tongue to watch for early signs of disease. Second, a hygiene visit cleans your teeth and gums and can prevent bacterial growth. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that a dental hygiene appointment can help you keep your teeth longer,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental office, “Regular visits help you stay healthy longer as well,” she adds.

cosmetic dentistWhile these visits used to be called “teeth cleaning,” they do so much more than clean and polish your teeth. The visit is an individualized health care examination and treatment of your teeth and your general health.

Everyone has bacteria in his or her mouth. As you swallow, saliva moves the bacteria around and removes much of it. Brushing and flossing have the same effect—the bacteria get removed from teeth and gums. True, new bacteria grow back, but the act of brushing and flossing remove not just the bacteria, but also the plaque in which bacteria thrive. Even careful brushing can’t remove all the plaque. If bacteria get below the gum line, your toothbrush and floss can’t reach it. But the hygienist can.

If plaque isn’t removed, it hardens into a rough, uneven surface called tartar that encourages bacteria to cling to it. Much like barnacles grow on the bottom of a boat, bacterial growth uses the crevices of tartar to cling and grow. Tartar can’t be removed by brushing and flossing alone, and unless it is removed, it will begin to cause gum damage. A hygienist removes both plaque and tartar, restoring a smooth, clean surface to teeth.

Dear Doctor, the online magazine of dentistry and oral health agrees that regular hygiene visits can catch serious disease early. “. . . The hygienist carefully assesses the skin in and around your mouth looking for lumps, bumps, sores, tenderness or swellings and refers all areas of concern to the dentist for further evaluation. This is, among other things, a cancer screening.”

This visit, which should be done regularly, is a great way to save your teeth and give you a long-lasting and healthy smile.




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