Five Things to Ask Your Dental Hygienist

Your dental hygienist is a wonderful resource for dental education and oral hygiene instructions.  When you see yours for a professional teeth cleaning, there are a few important things you should ask.  This week’s article continues are theme of National Dental Hygiene Month and, when implemented, will help you maintain great oral health!

  1. Where are my Problem Areas?

No one is a perfect brush er or flosser.  We all (yes, even your dentist and hygienists) have areas that we miss during our oral hygiene routines.  Your dental hygienist is the one who can spot these problem areas during a professional teeth cleaning.

Areas that we miss in our home care will have larger accumulations of dental plaque and/or tartar buildup.  They may also have noticeable inflammation of the gums.  Some people have tiny gaps between the teeth that allow for food impaction.

You need to know where these problem areas are so that you can focus more attention there during brushing and flossing.

  1. How Can I Improve my Plaque Removal in those Areas?

Some problem areas result from simple neglect.  For example, you might not get your toothbrush bristles all the way down to the gums on the inside of the teeth facing your tongue.  Other problem areas exist because they are difficult to reach or clean with traditional tools and methods.

Your dental hygienists are experts at a variety of ways to remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas.  He or she can show you accessory tools or alternative methods that will help you clean the problem areas.

When you remove more dental plaque, you reduce your risk for cavities and gum disease.  You also improve your overall health!

  1. Which Dental Risk Factors do I Have?

Another important thing your dental hygienist can tell you is your specific areas of risk for dental disease.  Not everyone is at risk for cavities.  Some people have outstandingly healthy gums and bone despite mediocre home care.  Risk factors are unique to every individual.  It is important to know what your specific risk factors are so that you can address them.

When you have a high risk for dental diseases, there are visible indicators in your mouth.  Your dentist and dental hygienist assess these risk factors when they evaluate your teeth.  They can tell you if you have a high risk for developing new cavities or for worsening gum disease.  Maybe you have healthy teeth and gums, but your teeth are at risk for cracking due to heavy clenching and/or grinding.  Identifying particular risk factors is the first step in lowering your risk for disease.

  1. How can I Reduce those Risk Factors?

The reason we want to identify your unique risk factors is so that we can take steps to combat them.  Once your dental hygienist explains your specific dental disease risks, then he or she will help you understand how to fight them.

For example, if you have a high risk for decay, your hygienist will speak with you about your food and beverage intake, your oral hygiene routine, and your exposure to fluoride or other remineralizing agents.  If you exhibit a dry mouth, your hygienist will give you important instructions for lubrication, hydration, and neutralization of the mouth.

Each patient is unique, and we provide customized recommendations for each person’s specific disease risk.

  1. What Type of Mouthwash Should I Use?

Mouthwash is an accessory to oral hygiene, meaning that it is not absolutely necessary, but it can provide some important benefits.  The reason you should ask your dental hygienist which kind you should use is that there are a variety of ingredients in mouthwash that target different oral health issues.

Your hygienist knows which risk factors you have and which ingredients you should apply to your mouth via mouthwash.  An elderly person fighting dry mouth should use a different mouthwash than a teenager with lots of cavities.  Follow your hygienist’s recommendation for the best mouthwash for your specific situation.

Is it Time for You to See Your Dental Hygienist?

We know that many people got off-schedule on professional teeth cleanings throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are thrilled to be open and providing essential dental care for our patients.  If you are overdue, call today to schedule a visit with one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We will answer all of these questions and more at your professional teeth cleaning visit.