In a dental office, the dentist and dental hygienists work together in clinical patient treatment. Most patients do not understand what their dental hygienist is doing during therapy to maintain and protect their oral health for their lifetime.
The job description for a dental hygienist and the dental hygienist duties falls into four basic categories.
- To assess the patient’s condition, examine for oral diseases, identify problems that will lead to a plan of treatment. This includes a review of health history, taking blood pressure and pulse, oral cancer screening and examination of the patient for oral diseases. Included is taking dental radiographs (x-rays} and impressions of teeth to construct study models to evaluate treatment needs.
- Therapeutic cleaning of the teeth. Removing the hard deposits (calculus), plaque (biofilm) and stains from the teeth. Use of hand instruments, ultrasonic scalers and air driven handpieces to polish.
- Provide preventative dental care to promote and maintain oral health, (i.e., apply MI pastes and fluoride to teeth).
- Educative services, teaching patient’s oral hygiene techniques to maintain oral health (i.e., brushing, flossing, interproximal debriders, water flossers, etc.) and nutritional counseling.
Maintenance programs with the hygienist after you have been treated in the past for Gum Disease are to prevent its return. Periodontal (Gum) disease is a chronic problem that will return without regular dental care and proper home oral hygiene. After periodontal disease treatment, the key to success is regular follow-up care at the dentist.
Follow up care will include being on a schedule of maintenance recall appointments. Most are one visit appointments with you dentist or periodontist or their dental hygienists. The main reason for these visits is to prevent further disease.
The frequency of these recalls depends on your periodontal condition. How severe the problem, is it re-occuring, do you smoke, what other health risks, determine how often. Visits are usually two to four times per year.
At maintenance visits you have a periodontal examination. Your oral hygiene home care is evaluated. You get your teeth professionally cleaned and polished (removes plaque, tartar and stains). X-rays are taken if needed, Teeth are treated with Fluoride compounds. Any tooth sensitivity is addressed. Oral hygiene techniques (brushing, flossing, and the use of other inter-dental cleaners) are reviewed. This is your chance to address questions and concerns.
If your Gum Disease returns some type of periodontal therapy would again need to be done. Hopefully, proper follow-up care decreases the likelihood of reoccurrence. When disease returns it can be treated early, making treatment easier.
You need to stay on a Periodontal Maintenance Schedule
“Forever or as long as you want to keep your teeth”.
Remember you do not have to lose your teeth to periodontal disease.