Gum disease is an umbrella term used to describe any form of infection on the supporting structures that hold a tooth in its place in the jaw. It usually involves infection of the gums and bone.
There is a wide spectrum of conditions that are labelled Gum Disease.
We are very fortunate to have hygiene therapists operate our hygiene department. They are an important part of the overall clinical team integrating their oral health expertise to provide the optimal solutions for our patients.
Our hygiene therapist performs an important role in promoting dental health and assisting our periodontists, cosmetic dentists and specialists to take complete care of our patients.
We often work in collaboration with your dentist to follow a prescribed Periodontal (Gum) Treatment Plan. They are a very important part of the overall care and maintenance of your mouth. This is especially true when you have had extensive or complex treatment carried out by a dentist.
What is the difference between a Hygienist and Hygiene Therapist?
Hygiene Therapists have an advanced level of dental hygiene training and thus have both clinical and health promotional responsibilities greater than that of an ordinary dental hygienist.
Hygiene therapists are more qualified than hygienists and can carry out a greater level of treatments and complex procedures.
Hygiene Therapists can perform all the activities of a regular dental hygienist but are also qualified to perform a greater number of responsibilities. They perform services that are almost like what a dentist would do but for foundational basic work only. At, the Perfect Smile Studios in order to provide a more advanced service to our patients we employ Hygiene Therapists.
This means that when you have a hygiene appointment you are being assessed and treated with an advanced outlook thus ensuring a higher quality of gum health.
Their main focus is on prevention of dental disease – especially of the supporting structures around the tooth. This is essentially taking care and treating everything that holds the tooth in its place.
Also, our Hygiene Therapists have been trained and are experienced is to a high level ensuring a supreme quality of service.
The Dental Hygiene Therapist Role includes:
Advanced Assessment of the Mouth
Hygiene Therapists can carry out a routine examination of your teeth, gums and soft tissues. This means that on an annual basis you are having a more in-depth look at your mouth not only by the dentist but also by the hygiene therapist. This is particularly useful when you are either undergoing or have had complex treatment like Dental Implants.
You can also save on time by not having double appointments.
A Hygiene Therapist is qualified to take an assortment of radiographs, assess and interpret them. However, they do need authorisation from a dentist unless they have taken an advanced Prescribing course. Our Hygiene Therapist has the ability and qualification to do this. However, since we work in a collaborative manner, both the therapist and the dentist usually confer on any procedure before it is undertaken. Our patients have found our teamwork very reassuring.
Also, if the therapist were to detect any problem on your teeth or gums, you would not have to wait for a separate appointment with the dentist. The therapist would be able to address the problem at the time of your visit. They would be able to take the necessary type of radiograph and then diagnose the condition. However, in most cases, despite their ability, at the Perfect Smile Studios, we always make sure that a dentist is present and has authorised any Treatment Plan working in a true collaborative nature.
Detection of Caries
The hygienist will also check the rest of the mouth to look for any decay or infection in the teeth. They can also use the radiographs (X-rays) to help with their assessment. If they do notice anything suspicious, they can refer you back to your dentist for further examination and treatment.
Assessing Gum Disease
Regular visits with the hygiene therapist will allow them to assess your gums. This involves performing some gum measurements that form a baseline check to assess for improvements in your oral condition. It involves gum measurements (pocket measurements), bleeding assessment, plaque assessment, radiographic assessment (X-rays) and a visual examination. This information is then recorded and kept on file. When you next visit the hygienist can check against the previous assessment to look for evidence of improvements.
Administration of a Wider Range of Local Anaesthesia.
Therapists are able to provide a wider selection of anaesthetic techniques. This allows them to do a wider array of treatments and can work alongside a dentist for more in-depth treatment plans.
They can administer “Infiltration” local anaesthetic. Infiltration injections are smaller and very localised to an individual tooth. They normally are observed at the front of the mouth where the teeth have either single or double roots only.
Hygiene Therapists can also perform “Inferior Dental Blocks” and “Palatal Infiltrations” which are more complex in nature and usually administered to double rooted or back molar teeth.
Our hygienists will always use a numbing gel or cream on the gums prior to any local anaesthetic. They also use special techniques to prevent and minimise any discomfort.
Treatment of Tooth Decay (Caries)
A Hygiene Therapist can carry out small fillings in your mouth if they are required. So, they are able to administer the anaesthetic, use the dentist’s drill to remove any infection and then fill the tooth with a tooth coloured filling material. However, you can be reassured that if the tooth in question had a larger cavity or required more complicated treatment then this would be referred to the dentist. A Hygiene Therapist will not for instance, carry out a Root Canal Treatment or do Crowns and Bridgework. They restrict their treatments to simple small cavities only
Treating Gum Disease
This can be carried out under a local anaesthetic or without. It often depends upon the extent of the infection. Deeper gum infections that also involve the bone will require local anaesthetic in order to correctly access the deeper surface of tooth.
It is imperative that this infection causing calculus and plaque is removed from the mouth and kept at bay using a proper home cleaning regime. This will help to prevent future infections and maintain any treatment in your mouth to make it last as long as possible.
When you visit a hygienist, they will regularly “clean” your teeth to remove any plaque and build-up of calculus.
Preventative & Maintenance Care
It is critical that whatever treatment you have undergone or about to undergo is maintained and free from any infection. This will help to make your teeth last longer. When you visit a dental therapist, you will be shown how best to look after your particular mouth.
In order to assess a patient’s condition further and to prevent future problems from occurring, sometimes it becomes necessary to carry out Caries Tests and Saliva Flow Rates. A hygienist can carry out these procedures. They provide important information on the susceptibility a patient has to dental infection particularly dental decay (caries).
The hygienist can administer and perform a wide range of teeth whitening treatments. They can assess you for the right type and then carry it out. They can do both Chairside (in-surgery) and Home teeth whitening treatments.
One of the routine treatments carried out by the hygienist is to “seal” the deep pits and fissures that form in the anatomy of back molar teeth. These are called Fissure Sealants. They are tooth coloured and bonded to the enamel of the tooth. There is no drilling involved and no discomfort of any kind. It is a great preventative treatment since most tooth infections start off in these deep pits that are harder to clean.
A dental hygienist can administer a wide range of fluoride treatments in those that have a high susceptibility to dental infections, particularly on the teeth.
This involves taking a series of particular digital photographs of your face, teeth, mouth and smile and then assessing them with you. This is a very useful tool when trying to initially understand what aspects of your mouth are of a concern to you. You will be able to see perspectives of your mouth that were previously inaccessible to you.
Extraction of “Baby” Teeth
A Hygiene Therapist can perform simple extractions of “baby’ deciduous teeth which are not so deeply embedded within the bone.
If the hygienist notices anything abnormal in your mouth, then they will be able to refer you to the correct person for further evaluation and assessment. Also, we work in close collaboration with some of the best Periodontists and experienced dentists, therefore, in order to efficiently and effectively solve conditions we are able to provide you with more advanced treatments.
Our hygienists can carry out simple emergency treatments like repair a crown or smooth fractured teeth. They are available to make sure that our patients are comfortable at all times.
The next step…
We recommend that all our patients see our Hygiene Therapists. After a detailed assessment of your mouth, our dentists or therapists will prescribe a specific Treatment Plan that is unique to you. Alternatively, you can see a hygiene therapist for simple maintenance work to prevent any future problems.
You might find it useful to know that Hygiene Treatments are included in our Dental Plans.
Medically reviewed & updated on March 15, 2019