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Why you should book an appointment with a dental hygienist?

My name is Aqsa, and I am the dental hygienist here at Shine Dental & Facial in Twyford near Reading.

My role as a dental hygienist is not just to clean teeth as most people assume. The most important part of my role is prevention; prevention of gum disease and introducing or reinforcing my patients’ oral hygiene regimes so that they can improve their own gum health.

As patients normally only visit me a few times a year, the most important thing is the message they take with them and implement into their oral hygiene routine at home. Below are some of the most common questions I get asked.

Why do gums bleed?
Gums bleed due to the plaque and bacteria around the gums. A biofilm of plaque starts to build up around the gums and if not removed properly causes inflammation and bleeding.

Should I use an electric toothbrush?
The best oral hygiene methods to practice at home are using an electric toothbrush. There are many electric toothbrushes on the market but I recommend patients choose one with round oscillating rotating heads. Oral B is a good brand with this feature.

An electric toothbrush delivers up to 48,800 movements per minute, while a regular manual toothbrush can only deliver 300 to 600 movements per minute.

How should I use an electric toothbrush?
It is very important to use the correct technique with an electric toothbrush as it differs from the technique with a regular toothbrush. What I normally advise patients to do is to bring their brushes in with them so we can help demo and correct your technique at the appointment.

Should I use interdental brushes?
Another really important measure to implement in your oral hygiene regime is interdental cleaning – cleaning in between the teeth. This is normally the most common practice missed. The best way to remove plaque in between the teeth is to use interdental brushes – the most common ones being TePe interdental brushes. These brushes usually come in different colours which indicate the different sizes. In an appointment with myself I will go through the sizes and let you know which ones you need. Most commonly the sizes in between the teeth differ so more than one size will be needed to cover the whole mouth. These brushes are reusable and there are newer more sustainable options getting introduced into the market which I can also share with you.

Should I use a dental mouthwash?
A common question I get asked is whether to use mouthwash or not. Mouthwash is generally designed to freshen the breath. Certain mouthwashes are recommended when a patient has an infection or a problem, either by the dentist or myself. This is usually due to antimicrobial effects of the mouthwash but it is to be used alongside the TePe brushes not to replace them, which is what I find many patients do.

The effect of the mouthwash is short lived due to your saliva and gingival crevicular fluid. Also many ber mouthwashes and certain gum related mouthwashes do stain the teeth and are only advised to be used in the short term when a problem arises and when recommended by a dental professional.

What happens in a hygienist appointment?
If you haven’t been to the hygienist before we will book you in for a longer appointment so we can assess your gums in more detail and advise you on the condition of them and the best tailored treatment for you.

At the start of the appointment I will assess the soft tissues including the tongue to check for any abnormalities. Then I check the gum health, this is called a basic periodontal examination (BPE). This is what helps me plan what treatment is required as it assesses the gums and the level of gum disease present.

The next part is the removal of the plaque and hardened plaque – calculus. This is normally done with an ultrasonic scaler. This is a scaler where the tip vibrates and water cools the tip.

This is the most effective and quickest way of removing deposits from the teeth. For those patients who suffer from sensitivity, we remove the deposits manually with hand scalers which is just as effective but takes a little longer.

Once all the deposits are removed I will assess your oral hygiene regime and advise you on your tooth brushing technique and what to use in between your teeth.

Normally we finish the appointment with a polish with prophy paste to remove any staining on the teeth – usually the most popular part of the visit.

Looking after the gums is just as important as looking after your teeth if not more important, so it is very important to establish a good oral hygiene regime at home and to visit the hygienist frequently.

Please get in touch to book a hygienist appointment at Shine Dental & Facial in Twyford and let me help you start your journey to healthier gums.

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