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What is the role of a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a clinical specialist in the health of soft tissue in the mouth, particularly the gums, who has completed a three-year training program. Your dental hygienist will assist you in maintaining appropriate oral hygiene, which is crucial to your dental health. Your dental hygienist will be able to provide you advice and instructions on how to maintain clean and healthy gums, since gum health is a barometer for your overall health and well-being. Scaling and polishing will help you eliminate plaque, calculus, and tartar, as well as discoloration caused by smoking and certain foods and drinks. Dental hygienists also offer valuable oral hygiene advice for children and perform fissure sealant therapy, which is a very effective way to prevent decay in young children's teeth.

Why do dentists refer patients for Dental Hygiene treatment?

Dentists frequently refer patients to a hygienist for routing cleaning, as well as various other reasons. Just like your dentist is a specialist in teeth, your dental hygienist is a specialist in gum health.

Upon doing a routine examination, your dentist will assess the depth of any voids or pockets that may develop between your gums and teeth. Pockets can form as a result of bacteria in your mouth, producing plaque. Plaque is a sticky that may not be removed through ordinary daily brushing, and can cause your gums to become irritated. This may eventually lead to harmful gum disease.


It is important to attend dental examinations on a regular basis, as gum disease can occur without any initial symptoms. As gum disease progresses, soft gum tissue may recede and expose teeth roots, leaving your teeth vulnerable to further attack by bacteria and disease. Ultimately, tooth loss may occur due to the root and bone around the root becoming infected. Seventy percent of all adult teeth lost are as a result of gum disease, and not tooth decay. Gum diseases are preventable with regular dental checkups and hygienist visits, and require treatment by these professionals. 

It is considered good practice for your dentist to refer you to your dental hygienist for scaling and polishing appointments according to your needs. You may request an appointment with your hygienist for additional scale and polishes to brighten up your teeth for a special occasion, or for advice on any oral health issues.


Upon experiencing any of the below symptoms, we advice a visit to your dentist or dental hygienist:

  • Bleeding gums upon brushing

  • Red, swollen gums

  • Bad taste in mouth

  • Unpleasant mouth odour

Elaine Woodhouse

Elaine Woodhouse

Dental Hygienist

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