Some people avoid regular dental care because of a bad experience they had during a dental cleaning. Professional cleanings are usually recommended at least twice a year, and can serve as a deterrent to some patients, even if they do not have a problem with other types of dental treatment. Having teeth professionally cleaned is essential for removing staining and unsightly tartar build up, and can also help keep the gums healthy. In most cases, dental cleanings are performed by a hygienist, and can be done with minimal, if any, discomfort to the patient.
The hygienist is an essential part of the dental care team. A hygienist’s main functions are to clean and polish teeth during routine check-ups, perform deep cleanings under the gum line, place protective dental sealants, and help inform patients of the best ways to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Just as it is vital for the dentist to provide treatment in as painless a manner as possible, it is equally important for the hygienist. In fact, people in good dental health may actually have more treatment provided by their dentist’s hygienist than the dentist himself. Although most hygienists are gentle, there are some that tend to be too aggressive during routine dental cleanings.
They will attempt to remove plaque that is too far under the gum line. Although removal of this deep plaque is essential for fighting gum disease, it is not appropriate during a routine dental cleaning. Removal of plaque under the gum can be uncomfortable, and may make a patient reluctant to have their teeth cleaned again in the future. This is especially true for patients who have not had their teeth cleaned in many years. It is far better for the hygienist to do an easy, painless cleaning, placing her instruments only slightly below and above the gum line. Later, the patient can be scheduled specifically for treatment of the gums, and the plaque can then be removed under the gum line aided by a local anesthetic, if necessary. This way, the patient does not have any undue discomfort during their cleaning or when the gums are being treated.
There are also other ways that the hygienist can make professional cleanings more comfortable. Patients with sensitive gums can have a potent topical anesthesia placed on them during the cleaning and also ask the hygienist not to use the ultrasonic scaler, if possible. These measures along with treatment by a gentle hygienist can make routine cleanings a breeze.