What is dental hygiene and why should people see a dental hygienist?
It is a preventive procedure, which aims to remove tartar, dental plaque and other impurities that should not be left in the oral cavity. Dental hygiene decreases the number of bacteria in the mouth, thus reducing the risk of infection and periodontitis, and preventing tooth decay, which is of bacterial aetiology. In this way, the number of bacteria in the mouth is reduced to a level that can be managed by the immune system. It should be known that presence of bacteria in the oral cavity is completely natural, as this is not a sterile environment. It is important to maintain the bacteria within certain limits, to prevent onset of inflammation or development of tooth decay.
How often will I need a dental hygienist appointment?
A dental hygienist should be seen twice a year for dental preventive care. The main reason is that the efficacy of tooth cleaning is not high, especially for the back teeth, even when using interdental brushes and dental floss. For patients, it is not easy to get to the back teeth, and “out of sight, out of mind.” Moreover, gingivitis and decay at their early stage do not hurt and often have no symptoms. The interdental deposits should be removed usually every six months. In addition, regular dental hygienist appointments also have psychological effects: Motivation and interest in dental care decreases with time, no matter how careful the patient may be. So the patient should be encouraged and re-motivated to clean their teeth properly, the whole process should be explained again and the patient should be supported in what he/she is doing well, while some procedures should be adjusted if they are not going particularly well. Dental hygiene among other things encourages patients to care for their teeth.
Regularity is important. Regular visits are beneficial in that they enable the dental hygiene treatment in our clinic to be faster and more comfortable for the patient, and provide more time for training and support. People who come to see us on a regular basis have fewer deposits on their teeth. In patients who come to see us irregularly or at longer time intervals, cleaning will take most of their time allotted to dental hygiene. The longer the deposit remains in the mouth, the more difficult it will be to remove; such removal may be sensitive and painful, time consuming and less comfortable.
Can you tell our readers what tartar is and how it is formed?
Primarily, dental plaque is formed on the teeth, which is a film that develops partially from the saliva and partially from food residues. This plaque is colonized by bacteria that live in essence on what we eat - it provides them with nutrition. Plaque is formed on the teeth all the time; when someone skips interdental cleaning or cleans his/her teeth poorly thus leaving a biofilm on his/her teeth, this causes the formation of tartar: the plaque gets harder and turns to tartar. It is a purely physiological process - some people have low tartar buildup, while others have a high tartar buildup; one person might have a buildup of soft tartar, which is relatively easy to remove and usually it is produced in large quantities, while someone else builds up hard tartar but in smaller quantities. It is more or less impossible to completely prevent tartar buildup.
What makes tartar harmful and why should it be removed?
Tartar itself contains bacteria, and since it cannot be removed by brushing and routine home care, it remains in the mouth and causes a risk of local inflammation. This also affects the overall health, especially in patients who have heart or lung problems. But even locally, tartar causes problems as it irritates the gums, which can be swollen, tender, reddened, and can start hurting... In such a case, the problem is even greater. Inflammation can spread and periodontal pockets are formed alongside the tooth root. In this case, deep cleaning is performed in several steps under anaesthesia using special tools, which is followed by antibacterial treatment.
Can you briefly summarize the risks related to poor tooth care?
Dental plaque is formed first, followed by tartar buildup which irritates the gums, causes gingivitis, and can progress into periodontitis. When periodontitis progresses such that the bone recedes too much, the tooth ultimately loosens and is lost. It is important to know that periodontitis can be stabilized but not cured and therefore it is necessary to diagnose the disease as soon as possible. It causes a lifelong handicap for the patient, who must improve his/her tooth care as much as possible. Once such major involvement occurs, it is necessary for the patient to come for regular checkups and dental hygiene treatment more frequently, every three or four months.
What dental hygiene care is provided at our clinic?
First of all, I will inspect the entire area, carry out some examinations with the periodontal probe, identify the shortcomings, impurities, and so on. Based on this, I will prepare treatment schedules and explain to the patient how much time will be needed for the procedure. Then, four phases of cleaning will follow. First, we will remove the largest deposits by ultrasound. Then we will continue to remove the deposits using hand tools, as the impurities from the surface of the teeth are scraped using a special hand tool, which can get into the interdental space. The next step is polishing with the Airflow device, i.e. cleaning with a mixture of powder and water; this sanding technology is beneficial as the fine powder really gets everywhere, even in tight interdental spaces. This will enable the completion of plaque removal from all surfaces. Airflow technology is not used on children, since this treatment is not necessary and could be very uncomfortable for them.
The last phase is cleaning and polishing, which is, in fact, a single procedure with dual effect. This is removal of the dental plaque by electric toothbrush and special depuration paste, which is a little rougher than normal toothpaste. Polishing is the final treatment, which makes the teeth completely smooth. Since the sanding procedure is somewhat uncomfortable for the soft tissues, it is usually avoided near the gums; these areas are later cleaned in the final polishing stage, which is gentler for the soft tissues.
Is there any difference between the dental hygiene care at our clinic and in other facilities?
We are committed to doing our best for clients during the time they spend in our dental hygiene treatment. Patients are sometimes surprised that our initial examination lasts 11/2 hours, while elsewhere it may take only 30 minutes. However, in our clinic, we perform all four phases described above in the entire oral cavity, carefully and with maximum respect to the client. It takes some time to clean 32 teeth thoroughly, and we also reserve enough time for training, selection of appropriate equipment for the dental hygiene treatment and any questions the patient may have, so that he/she leaves our office sufficiently informed and satisfied with the results of dental cleaning. We have enough time, so that we can demonstrate the correct use of dental aids on the model and directly in the oral cavity, which is much better than showing pictures or describing the procedure, because we can take into account the individual characteristics of every patient, such as cleaning the interdental spaces at sites with overlapping teeth. Of course, we can also adapt the entire procedure according to the time requirements of the patient, and shorten some steps based on agreement with the patient. However, such patients are usually invited back for the next check-up within half a year.
Do you have any recommendations on what to avoid in our diet? What makes our teeth hurt?
There are foods after which it is strongly not recommended to clean your teeth, for example, grapes. Acids contained in the grapes cause microscopic erosions on the tooth surface, which makes the enamel softer, and if you start brushing your teeth at that moment, you will harm yourself more than by skipping one tooth brushing. Other foods have the same effect on the surface of the teeth, such as oranges, lemons, fresh juices, salads with vinegar dressing, fermented milk drinks - basically all acidic foods. This can be somewhat improved if you use chewing gum because chewing increases the production of saliva in the mouth, which is alkaline, and thus neutralizes the pH in the mouth. You should wait 30 minutes after eating such foods or drinks before you brush your teeth.