October is National Dental Hygiene Month! (Ironic, considering it’s always one of the most candy-focused months on the calendar, right?)
Most people know their dental hygienist cleans and polishes their teeth, but do you really understand the full value of regular dental hygiene for your health and wellbeing?
Let’s kick off Dental Hygiene Month with a look at how regular dental cleanings support your overall health and what you can do to improve your dental hygiene at home!
What Do Dental Hygienists Do?
They just polish your teeth, poke your gums, and make you feel bad for not flossing, right? (Just kidding… but we see all those memes you guys send about us!)
You’re supposed to see them every six months or so, but what is your dental hygienist really doing at your routine cleanings?
Dental hygienists are gum health experts.
It’s our job to keep your gums in the best possible shape. We do that in three main ways.
- We keep tabs on gum disease. You know that thing where your hygienist measures your gums and calls out a bunch of numbers? We’re actually measuring how deep your gum tissue is from its top edge to where it attaches to the roots of your teeth. This tells us if your gums are swollen, where the supporting bone tissue is, and whether you have gum disease.
- We remove hardened buildup from your teeth. Plaque that sits on your teeth or develops below your gums where your toothbrush can’t get to it will absorb minerals and turn into hard tartar deposits. The look and feel like chalky pebbles and can seriously damage the health of your gums. They’re also impossible to remove at home. That’s what we do! Our specialized instruments completely remove these hard deposits and the bacteria below your gums, which is a vital first step in reversing gum disease.
- We watch for soft tissue diseases like oral cancer. Every dental cleaning at Lake Baldwin Dental includes an oral cancer screening and comprehensive soft tissue examination. We look carefully at the tissues of your cheeks, tongue, gums, lips, throat, and the floor of your mouth to check for any abnormal tissue. Early identification of problems like oral cancer, HPV lesions, and signs of infections and abscess can make the difference between minimizing the fallout and allowing more serious complications to develop.
So yes, we might poke at your gums a little bit. But it’s for a good cause! Monitoring your gum health can have lasting health benefits, which we’ll go over in detail below.
We’re a Second Set of Eyes for Your Dentist
We don’t have a dentist’s expertise to diagnose problems like cavities, but as we gain experience, hygienists become a valuable second set of eyes keeping a lookout for issues. Your hygienist probably spends more time looking at your teeth than any other person on the planet. At every cleaning, we carefully examine every tooth surface looking for miniscule deposits, stains, and irregularities.
That gives us a serious edge noticing small changes from appointment to appointment. We may notice soft tissue lesions tucked away where they may otherwise slide under the radar.
While your hygienist isn’t a substitute for your dentist, we’re an integral part of the team working together to keep your oral health in peak condition.
We’re Invested in Building Your Dental IQ
We’re not trying to guilt trip you about the flossing, I swear! However, patient education is our calling as dental hygienists.
As important as your routine dental cleanings are, we only see you about every three to six months, depending on how often you need to get your teeth cleaned. What happens between cleanings is entirely up to you!
It’s our job to help our patients understand:
- What condition your oral health is in.
- Why your oral health is important.
- How you can improve your oral health at home.
- How to choose the right products for your individual needs.
Nobody is born knowing how to floss. It’s up to us to teach you good techniques for brushing and flossing and help you find the motivation to follow through with them every day! The bottom line is that we care a lot about your health, and our job is to empower you to live your best life with a healthy smile.
Why Are Regular Dental Cleanings So Important?
Effective brushing and flossing will remove most of the harmful bacteria from your teeth and gums twice per day. But not all of it.
There are some types of buildup you can’t remove at home. Once that plaque hardens into tartar or stains start to stick to your pearly whites, it’s up to your hygienist to get you back to baseline.
Periodontal disease puts your immune system under continuous strain and triggers chronic inflammation which affects other parts of your body.
Gum disease increases your risks for:
- Heart disease.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Breast cancer.
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Preterm labor and low birthweight babies.
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
And researchers are adding to that list constantly. Good dental hygiene and preventative dental care can relieve your body from a significant source of inflammatory triggers that damage your overall wellbeing.
Plus, getting your teeth polished helps you feel great about your smile!
What Can You Do to Support Your Dental Hygiene at Home?
Everybody hates when your hygienist asks if you’ve been flossing. But good home care makes all the difference!
Want to improve your oral health? It’s an easy formula. Brush (with good technique) twice every day, for two minutes each time, and clean between your teeth at least once per day, too.
….okay, it’s a little more technique sensitive than that, but we can give you the details at your next cleaning!
Get Oral Health Support from Our Expert Hygienists!
As you can see, your dental hygiene team has your health at heart. But we also want to help you look forward to seeing us! If you ever struggle to get through dental cleanings because of sensitive teeth or tender gums, let us know! We can always find ways to help make the process more comfortable for you.
At the end of the day, we’re only here to help you love your smile and enjoy better quality of life through better oral health. Keep smiling, Orlando!