Regularly visiting a hygienist will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums, as well as protecting your overall well-being, because poor gum health has been linked to more serious conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. Hygienists are fully trained members of the dental team, who focus on preventing and treating gum disease by promoting good oral hygiene.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by the plaque that builds up daily on your teeth. If this sticky substance is not removed, it can turn into hard tartar and start to irritate the gums, leading to redness and soreness. As a reaction to this irritation, the body can start to attack any build-up around the teeth.

In some people, their immune system can overreact and start to break down the gum tissue and even the bone that supports the tooth. It’s important to treat gum disease before this stage because, if left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.

Symptoms of gum disease

How is gum disease treated?

The best way to prevent gum disease is to make sure plaque is removed effectively. While a thorough home care routine of brushing and flossing will keep your teeth mostly clean, a hygienist can scale away the hard-reach areas of your teeth. You also need to see your dentist regularly so any changes can be detected before they worsen.

Other ways you can reduce your risk of developing the disease include giving up smoking, reducing stress and eating a well-balanced diet.

What happens during a hygiene appointment?

During a hygiene appointment, the health of your gums and teeth will be assessed. This will involve looking for any signs of swelling, inflammation or bleeding. The hygienist may also take measurements where the gum attaches to the tooth and check for signs of oral cancer.

One of the main aspects of the hygienist’s role is to carry out a ‘scale and polish’, a thorough clean of the teeth to remove plaque and tartar build-up. Scaling (removing tartar) also makes it easier to keep teeth clean, as there is no longer a rough surface to attract more plaque. This deep clean will be finished off with a polish to leave teeth shiny and smooth.