Did You Know?
- Plaque is the cause of cavities and gingivitis
- Plaque reforms on your teeth minutes after brushing them
- Dental Cavities and Gingivitis are 100% preventable
- According to the World Health Organization, 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities globally.
So, if cavities are the most prevalent disease world wide and yet they are preventable… why hasn’t there been a decrease over the years with our improving dental care?
One reason is the lack of dental hygiene visits among our own population. Your dental hygienist's key role is to help you prevent cavities and gum disease from occurring in your mouth and with regular visits you can achieve that!
Lets discuss the roles of a dental hygienist that makes them so important to our oral health success. You might be surprised to learn that a Dental Hygienist does more than just clean your teeth!
First and foremost, your hygienist is an educator and part of their job is to help teach you about all the methods you can use to keep your teeth clean and healthy at home. All of us have unique needs to maintaining a healthy smile and your hygienist will help find the best suited tools for your oral success. They will also provide you with advice on nutrition and how it affects your oral health. Many of us forget that the main source of food for tooth decay bacteria is sugar! But, there are ways to keep eating your favourite sweets while also using methods to keep those cavity causing bacteria at bay and your hygienist will help you learn how to do that!
The most well known role of a Hygienist is Scaling, or cleaning our teeth. This is also arguably the most important role they have and here is why:
Bacteria that accumulates on our teeth, also known as plaque or biofilm, is the main cause of cavities. That is why removing it is so important. But, at home tools don’t do the whole job themselves. This is because our gums attach to our teeth just like a turtle neck sweater. It wraps around the tooth but the point of attachment is deeper down than the toothbrush bristles can physically reach. After a while some of the plaque that accumulates under the gums mineralizes and turns into tarter or calculus. While other bacteria may start eating away at the gum tissue causing painless bleeding and micro inflammation, or at the tooth structure itself causing decay. These are the first stages of gum disease and cavities and it only takes a few weeks for it to happen.
Only professional tools can reach those areas and remove the plaque and tarter that causes these diseases.
Plaque can also accumulate in hard to reach areas and the pits and fissures of our molars. The hygienist will also remove the plaque from these areas preventing any cavity formation.
Professional Fluoride treatments are also an effective tool that your hygienist may use in order to decrease your risk for developing cavities. It has been proven to significantly reduce the prevalence of cavity occurrence and also helps reverse early stages of cavity formation. Based on your need, your Hygienist may apply this on your teeth every 6 - 12 months adjunctive to scaling therapy.
Why is prevention so important?
Well, early stage cavities and gingivitis may not cause any pain or discomfort at first but allowing them to progress can lead to extensive tooth structure loss and bone loss. Both of which are not reversible. Allowing a cavity to form and progress into the second layer of tooth structure results in the need for a filling or a root canal if it progresses to the nerve. These are all costly things to fix and very painful to deal with.
Gingivitis, if allowed to progress will turn into Periodontitis which means that the bone structure that supports the tooth will be destroyed and gum recession will occur. These are irreversible and will eventually cause tooth loss, resulting in the need for an implant or bridge.. also extremely costly and uncomfortable procedures.
Every patient is unique and has a different rate at which cavities form and gingivitis occurs which reflects how often you should visit your hygienist. As a general rule, every 4 - 6 months is effective in removing these build ups to prevent or reverse the occurrences of 1st stage cavities and gingivitis.
Hopefully this has shed some more light on the importance of visiting your dental hygienist regularly.
The Westboro Family Dental Team