Not Seeing The Hygienist? Here's Why You Should....

Monitoring and managing gum disease at our Eltham dental clinic.

It is probably true that most patients think of poor oral health as relating to problems such as tooth decay and cavities, perhaps also associated with a painful toothache. While it is important to look after your teeth to ensure that this doesn’t happen, it isn’t the only thing that our patients should be concerned about when it comes to their oral health.

Tooth loss is a big concern for most patients and while tooth decay is probably the biggest cause of this, patients might be surprised to know that around a quarter of all teeth lost is due to gum disease.

There are two key stages of gum disease; gingivitis, the earlier stage which is treated and managed relatively straightforwardly, and periodontitis. This is the latter stage and is where tooth loss becomes a real risk. While gingivitis affects only the gums, periodontitis can also affect the tooth root and surrounding bone material. It causes this to degrade, loosening its hold on the tooth root. Once this happens, the tooth may become loose and eventually fall out. Unfortunately, this is not easy to treat and requires an invasive treatment known as ‘root planing’ or a ‘deep clean’. Even with these treatments, there is no guarantee that the tooth can be saved.

Preventing gum disease at home

Before we move on to look at the work of the dental hygienist at AR Smiles in Eltham, it is worth saying that there is much that patients can do at home to prevent gum disease from becoming a serious problem.

Brushing your teeth is the bedrock of all good oral health. In order to keep your gums clean though, you should angle the bristles towards the gum line so that they reach into the gum pockets and remove any trapped food particles and bacteria that may have lodged there. The other thing to do is to add flossing to your daily tooth care regime. Many dental problems start between the teeth where it can sometimes be difficult for the toothbrush bristles to reach. Flossing between your teeth will make a big difference to your oral health, as will seeing the dental hygienist on a six monthly basis.

What does the hygienist do?

There are three main things that a dental hygienist does as part of their job.

Monitoring oral health

On an ongoing basis, the hygienist will examine your mouth for signs of gum disease and will check for build up of tartar and any gum recession. This can build up a picture of what you might need to do to improve your daily oral health habits and lifestyle in general


This is one of the key roles that a dental hygienist plays. However well you brush and floss your teeth at home, there will always be some bacteria that remain. These combine with minerals in the oral cavity to form a hard ‘crust’ that attaches to your teeth and around the gum line. This is a rough material, known as tartar or calculus, which then attracts more bacteria with its ‘easy to attach to’ surface. No amount of brushing at home will remove this and the hygienist will do so in three stages.

1 - A hook-like implement is used to manually remove much of the tartar. This is not painful but can create a ‘pulling’ sensation. Local anaesthetics are rarely used and the level of discomfort is minimal.

2 - Once the bulk of the tartar has been removed, a sonic tool is used which shatters the remaining tartar, removing most of it from your teeth and gum line. This is a painless experience.

3 - Using a handheld brush and a specially formulated paste, your teeth and gums will be given a final polish. This will help to remove any remnants of tartar that still exist and, another bonus for patients, will also remove some surface staining too. Following this part  of the treatment, you will find that your mouth feels significantly fresher and your teeth feel cleaner and smoother too.


The final part of your dental hygienist visit will consist of a discussion about your lifestyle. You may be given advice on changes that can be made to improve your oral health. This may range from advice about stopping smoking to improvements in the type of toothpaste or mouthwash that you use. This is very individual and will depend on the contents of your discussion.

As you can see, while many people consider seeing the dental hygienist as an ‘optional extra’ that we provide at AR Smiles, it is more essential than that. It is an excellent way to keep your mouth in good health and to both avoid and manage any gum disease that might occur. In addition to any ‘medical’ benefits received, we are sure you will be surprised at how much better it makes your mouth feel and how your teeth look. Why not see for yourself?

Preventative care is an essential part of good oral health and seeing the dental hygienist plays a key role in this. To make an appointment to see the hygienist at our Eltham dental practice, please call us today on 020 8856 7759.

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416 Well Hall Road, Eltham, London, SE9 6UD
Site last updated December 2023
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