What is “Cleaning”, “Hygiene”, “Therapy” and “Maintenance”?
Hygiene is a common word, however in the dental industry it has become the word associated with the service of maintaining or “cleaning” and polishing teeth and gums, along with providing education and general advice.
This involves the removal of plaque and harder to remove tartar from the surface of the tooth in order to prevent decay and disease. Plaque and tartar are usually found in hard to reach places (in between teeth and towards the back of the mouth) as well as along the gum line, where the gums attach to your teeth. Cleaning was traditionally provided by the dentist, however due to the importance of this area of treatment the last decade has seen a shift towards specialised professionals who spend more time with patients and their individual needs.
A “scale and clean” involves the removal of tartar (calculus) from the tooth surfaces by special dental instruments. You can often feel tartar build up on your front teeth with your tongue. It feels like a smooth, hard build up on the backs of your teeth. With professionally cleaned teeth you can feel ridges and valleys between each tooth, tartar build up can feel like you have a smooth wall, like one continuous tooth.
This is the kind of teeth cleaning service you can expect at our Port Melbourne clinic.
Plaque & Tartar
Plaque, a soft, sticky film containing bacteria which builds up on teeth, can be removed by normal brushing. However, if plaque is not removed, it hardens to become tartar, and if left untreated, it will damage healthy teeth and gums, and can cause tooth decay, gum disease, supporting bone loss leading ultimately to tooth loss.
Hygiene is a common word, however in the dental industry it has become the word associated with the service of maintaining or “cleaning” and polishing teeth and treating gums, along with providing education and general advice.
Dental Therapists are usually associated with the Hygiene Department and have a wider range of skills. Therapists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of dental diseases such as gum disease (see below). They work with dentists and perform exams, xray diagnosis, fill simple cavities, apply fissure sealants and advise on correct diets for dental health.
Maintenance is used as a dental term to encourage patients to understand that regular attention is required in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums and that “Hygiene Maintenance” is a regular, healthy and important part of life.
And who does this treatment?
A dental hygienist is a specifically trained and licensed oral health professional who provides you with clinical & educational services to enhance and maintain both your oral and overall health.
- Trained in various techniques to help educate, motivate and build self efficacy in their patients to help support behaviour changes.
- Competent in comprehensive oral and periodontal examinations, vitality tests, radiography and clinical photography.
- Skilled in local anaesthesia, emergency management, preventative practices, treatment planning, scaling and root debridement for individuals of all ages.
- Highly motivated and committed to the best possible management and care of their patients.
Your Dental Hygienist is an excellent resource and offers a wide range of services that can help you and your family keep your mouth healthy.
These services include the following:
- Educate and counsel both adults and children on dental health, plaque control, oral hygiene and nutrition;
- Detect and assist in the prevention and control of dental caries (decay) as well as gum and bone disease; your Dental hygienists also evaluate how their recommendations are working and, when necessary, revise treatment as it progresses to assist you to achieve your oral health goals.
- Remove deposits and stains from teeth by scaling, polishing and root planning;
- Select and use appropriate preventative fluoride treatments;
- Consult on, and perform whitening procedures;
- Targeted and specific dental hygiene treatment for children, adolescents, adults, older adults, and patients who are medically compromised;
- Facilitate construction of customised mouthguards for children and adults; and
- Provides assistance to your dentist with orthodontic and Invisalign treatment.
Dental therapists are specifically trained and licensed oral health professionals in the care of children and young adults.
- Competent in comprehensive oral and periodontal examinations, vitality tests, radiography and clinical photography on children and young adults.
- Efficient in trauma management, local anaesthesia, fissure sealants, conservative restorative therapy, vital pulp endodontics and extractions of the deciduous dentition in children and young adults
- Able to identify when a situation lies outside skill level and seek peer advice or refer accordingly.
- Highly skilled in the behaviour management of children, and working with children and families to build relationships and ease children into the dental environment.
Oral Health Therapists
Possess the qualifications of both dental therapists and dental hygienists.