Why see a Dental Hygienist?
Scale, calculus or tartar accumulates on teeth providing conditions for biofilm (bacteria) to grow and infect your gums. Scaling and polishing essentially cleans and smooths teeth so that bacteria are unable to stick to them. This procedure is now one of the most important treatments you can have to help you maintain your bone (the anchor for your teeth), soft tissues and teeth into old age.
What does a Dental Hygienist do?
A dental hygienist scales and polishes your teeth removing deposits, examines gums for disease or abnormality taking steps to eliminate calculus, stains and biofilm (plaque). Education is a key to the success of your treatment, understanding gum disease and how to prevent it’s exsistance in your mouth. Working as a team is what it’s about, guided and supported by your hygienist, regular procedures and good home care will ensure the best outcome. We may also do preventative procedures such as cavity preventing fluoride.
Scale and polishes remove biofilm from your teeth which are continually bathed in saliva which contains calcium and other substances which strengthen and protect teeth. While this is a good thing, it also means we tend to get a build up of calcium deposits on the teeth. This chalky substance will eventually build up over time, like lime scale in a pipe or kettle. As it is often tooth coloured it may not be noticed, but it can also be brown or black.
How do we do dental cleanings?
Probing & Charting – A gentle baseline probing chart is done first to check and measure the gum tissue attachment around the tooth. Also to check and measure any receding gums (which is when the root becomes exposed, commonly known as recession). This lets the Hygienist know the overall health of your gums. This is checked at each recall appointment and changes noted, then fully updated every 2 years.
Ultrasonic Instrument – Commonly used is an ultrasonic instrument which uses vibrations to knock off the larger pieces of tartar while spraying out a cooling mist of water which washes away the debris and also keeps the area at a proper temperature, which typically emits a humming or high pitched whistling sound.
Fine hand tools – Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, the hygienist will switch to finer hand tools. These instruments remove the smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the tooth surface. Gentle to moderate and careful scaling is preformed.
Polishing – Once all the surfaces are smooth, the hygienist will polish the teeth. Polishing is done using a soft rubber cup that spins on the end. Prophylaxis paste is a special gritty toothpaste to make them shiny smooth!
Airflow – One of the best ways to remove stains and ensure all the surfaces both below the gum line and on the tooth surfaces are free from biofilm (bacteria). A salt and baking soda mixture is mixed with compressed air and water making the experience like micro-derm abrasion (for our ladies), and sand-blasting (for our men).
The fluoride rinse or gel treatments are the final part of the treatment. Fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth since the calulus and biofilms may have weakend the tooth surface.
For the safety of our Patients and our entire dental team we carry out infection control and sterilization procedures that meet the standards set up by the New Zealand Dental Association.