Dental Hygienist vs Dentist, What’s the difference?

Do you ever wonder why your Dentist refers you to a Dental Hygienist? Well here are the differences to what your Dentist and Hygienist do, and their importance to your Dental Health.

Dental Check-Up;

The Dentist checks more than you may think, and you might not even notice!

What the dentist checks on the outside;
  • Your face, lips and neck to see that they are healthy
  • Feel under your jaw (if you are complaining of “clicking” or headaches)
Once they’re in, they check;
  • Your Teeth and Gums. You may have heard them telling their Dental Nurse numbers, these are for various charts that help assess and monitor your dental health. The dentist will be able to compare with previous/future appointments, and from there decide whether further information is needed, such as X-rays.
  • Tongue, Cheeks, Roof of your mouth, Floor of your mouth (under your tongue) and the back of your Throat. These parts of you mouth are checked as part of your Mouth Cancer Screening. To check for any abnormalities or changes in the tissues. Sometimes the dentist will take photos of the teeth or soft tissues to help them monitor certain things.

Dental Hygienist Appointment;

On the outside;

They too will check around your face and lips to check they are healthy.

On the Inside, they will check;
  • Your gums, often by gently probing them to take a map of your mouth. This will highlight any problem areas that will need more attention, or to compare to previous maps to monitor your gum health.
  • Professional Scale and Polish, this involves the removal of calculus, plaque and bacteria responsible for gum or jaw-bone disease. While a comprehensive polish removes unsightly stain, in order to give you a fresher and healthier looking smile.
  • Apply fluoride solutions to help prevent decay/help with sensitivity if needed.

The appointment will usually finish with a demonstration of oral hygiene techniques, which are most suitable for you, to keep your teeth and gums in the best possible health.

Oral health care checks pick up on problems early on

Regular Dental Check-ups and hygiene appointments to clean and polish your teeth are the cornerstone of any great smile and foundation of oral health, but there are other specific reasons you should book an appointment.

Gum disease

More adults lose their teeth every year as a result of gum disease than from any other cause. Thankfully, gum or jaw bone disease is preventable, and if already present, it is manageable. With regularly scheduled check-ups and cleanings, your mouth can remain healthy and free from gum disease.

Prevent bad breath

Halitosis is usually caused by bacteria in the mouth, and a thorough dental cleaning by a dental hygienist can help with bad breath.

Avoid fillings and other problems

Regular appointments with a Dentist can allow us to pick up on problems such as early decay, defective fillings or infections that you would have been otherwise unaware of.

Keep your own teeth

With regular visits to our dentist and hygienist, we can plan a series of treatments to slow down the process and prevent early tooth loss. In many cases we can successfully stop further deterioration to the gum tissues, enabling you to hold onto your teeth longer.

Cleaning those hard to reach spots

Even if you brush your teeth twice a day, every day, 365 days a year, there will always be parts of your mouth that you just won’t be able to clean as effectively as a dental hygienist. We have specialised instruments designed to reach those areas where plaque can hide from toothbrushes.

Overall health

Researchers have found that gum disease is associated with other health problems such as heart disease, stroke and respiratory problems. Check our article for more info The Effects Of Poor Dental Hygiene On Your Body

Other factors that affect your mouth

  • Whether you smoke/drink
  • Your general health and medications you take
  • How you clean your teeth

This hopefully explains why we ask so many questions on your medical history and patient assessments, that you may feel are irrelevant.