October is Dental hygiene Month and we are blessed with the best! Our dental hygienists make prevention a priority, and when you come into our office, you’re not just receiving a “teeth cleaning”. Our hygienists give thorough examinations to detect signs of dental problems like gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer detection. They often take x- rays to check for concerns with the jaw and teeth at the deepest levels.
We understand that being a dental hygienist is not for everyone, and we respect and listen to our dental hygienist providers. It takes compassion to be sensitive to the discomfort and fear experienced by some when they come to the dentist. It requires attention to detaill and dexterity to preform procedures in diagnosis and treatment. Our hygienists spend hours on their feet leaning over patients and the way our hygienists communicate and educate is awe inspiring. With October being Dental Hygienist month, we asked our Hygiene team what facts they would love to share, and facts that most patients overlook. Read below!
1. Scaling: What is it and what is its significance? Scaling sounds like a terrible term, but it improves gingival (gums) and periodontal (supporting tooth structures) health. The #1 most common cause of tooth loss in adults is periodontal disease. “When I scale your teeth, I am removing the tartar (hard deposits) and plaque (soft deposits) where harmful bacteria make their home. Afterwards, your gums can heal. If you had deeper pockets between your teeth and gums, your gums can now reattach to your tooth. That's the basics of how we prevent and turn around periodontal disease and it's the most rewarding part of my job. If you are one of those people that is afraid to go to the dental hygienist because you are embarrassed of your poor oral health or fearful of pain, please come! It may save your life! .” – Megan Lawrence RDH
2. How Often Should You Come to the Dentist: Your dental hygiene visits should be unique. “At each preventative care visit we will assess when you should come in next. This sometimes mean it is not just be a standard six months for everyone. We base it on your current periodontal health, medical history, and cavity risk.” – Madison Brown RDH Ask your dental hygienist what’s best for you. Some come every three months and others twice a year.
3. It is not normal for your gums to bleed. This is for the people in the back of the room- BLEEDING IS NOT NORMAL! Bleeding is a sign that your immune system is battling the bacteria in your gums. Some patients say they avoid the areas that bleed when flossing or brushing. That makes the bacteria happy; you’re leaving them alone to do their thing. When you remove the bacteria, you let your immune system take a break. Bleeding is your cue to step up your home care game or that it’s time to come and see your dental hygienist again. “I had one patient come in and tell me that they did not want to come to the dentist due to their gums bleeding after brushing. That is when I realized that I needed to elevate my oral education to my patients. Now, I take intraoral photos and visually show my patients. The visual tool helps to understand that this is not normal and I answer any questions that arise.”- Laurie Duchaine, RDH
4. What is Dental Fluoride: Fluoride is a natural mineral that builds strong teeth and prevents cavities. It's been an essential oral health treatment for decades. Fluoride supports healthy tooth enamel and fights the bacteria that harm teeth and gums. “I recommend fluoride to every patient. MOST INSURANCES DO NOT PAY FOR FLUORIDE. They will only pay sometimes 1 a year for anyone under 19. It is a preventative measure and I have written countless narratives to insurance companies to try and fight for my patients to have their insurance cover. Fluoride treatment at our office is $27 and it is $27 well spent, in my opinion.” – Anna Clar RDH
5. Don’t brush your teeth right after you vomit. I am surprised that more people do not know this. Your teeth have just been exposed to an exorbitant amount of acid which means the tooth enamel is soft. When you brush after you vomit a small amount could be brushed away. Instead, after you are sick, rinse your mouth with water or baking soda/water to neutralize the acid.
6. Oral cancer Screenings save lives: Do you know that each day 100 new cases of oral cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, and one person every hour of every day will die from it? 1 In addition, an increase in new cases has occurred among populations such as nonsmoking men and women under 50 years old who have not typically been at risk in the past. Updated research has surfaced in the last five years that provides compelling evidence for certain variants of the human papillomavirus (HPV) as a causative agent, joining tobacco, alcohol, sun exposure, and diet as the risk factors associated with new oral cancer cases. A 5 minute oral cancer screening CAN save a life. Here is a video of a patient whose life was saved, and this is what makes our profession so rewarding.
7. WATEPIK DOES NOT TAKE PLACE OF FLOSSING: A common misconception is that waterpik takes the place of floss but it does not. Waterpik flushes out the gum line and debree that could get caught around the gum line where floss goes between the contact of the teeth so that it can physically remove food/debree caught in between there. The two serve different purposes and should be used in conjunction with each other.
Did you learn something new? If so, share it! We want to know!