Would you believe that your dental hygienist knows your teeth and gums better than you do? Seriously. In fact, he or she often knows more about your teeth and gums than your Raleigh dentist does. Therefore, if you really want to get cleaning and maintaining your teeth and gums “right,” (which could mean reducing your long-term dental bill) then spend a little extra energy creating an ongoing relationship with your hygienist. But how? Today we’ll share with you X things you should ask your dental hygienist at your next Raleigh dentist appointment.
What am I consistently missing when I clean my teeth at home?
The only person who knows how well you’re brushing and flossing your teeth more than you is your dental hygienist. In fact, she’s paid to know. While she’s cleaning your teeth, her specially trained eyes (with the support of dental tools) can spot areas that have heavier plaque or tartar buildup than others. For most people, these tricky areas are consistent from one cleaning to another. For example, if you have a lingual bar (permanent retainer) behind your bottom teeth, chances are that you’ll have some level of calculus build-up that needs to be scraped away at your semi-annual cleaning appointments.
Even if you don’t ask your dental hygienist directly what you’re missing, chances are that she’ll make it known what areas you need to work on by the amount of time she spends cleaning any given area. If you find that your gums are particularly sensitive in one area of your mouth as she’s scraping that area, your dental hygienist is giving you a non-verbal that you should be paying more attention to those teeth. If your gums are bleeding as she is cleaning your teeth, it’s probably a safe bet that you aren’t flossing enough.
How can I better clean those areas?
This is probably the more important question to ask your dental hygienist, because if you simply “try harder,” you may keep missing those areas.
Let’s go back to the patient with a permanent retainer. For years, their hygienist has given them customized instructions on better cleaning those front four teeth in hopes that their efforts would finally pay off. The patient tries floss designed for permanent retainers and threaders with no luck. Then, after their last Raleigh dentist appointment, the dental hygienist suggests using dental picks. While there is still some calculus build-up at the patient’s follow-up appointment, the hygienist and your Raleigh dentist notice huge improvements.
Many times, finding the right solution to better cleaning your teeth is a bit of trial and error, but our incredible dental hygienists truly do love to teach our patients how to better care for their teeth and gums, so don’t be afraid to ask what you can do at home to take better care of your teeth. Your hygienist would be happy to give you customized instructions for reaching your unique “trouble spots.” Then, when you return in six months, you can proudly ask “how did I do?”
What tools should I be using at home?
This is also a question that is a great add-on to the first question and we touched on this in our previous point. Ninety percent of effect oral hygiene can be done with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, but there is a multitude of dental products that we often suggest our patients use that will improve teeth cleaning abilities.
Product recommendations are highly customized to the individual. For example, we often recommend some type of flossing solution for our permanent retainer patients. Meanwhile, for our patients with dental bridges, braces, or dental implants, we might recommend something else to help remove plaque from their teeth. As such, if you’re looking into purchasing a water pick or other dental tool with claims of improving your overall oral hygiene, run it by your dental hygienist first to make sure that it’ll address your specific needs.
What Other Questions Should You Ask Your Dental Hygienist?
We’ll be following up this article with another piece on more questions to ask your dental hygienist, so stay tuned. In the meantime, be sure to give Dr. Katherine E. Garrett a call to schedule your appointment. if you’re looking for a new Raleigh dentist. New patients are always welcome, and we are proud to provide dental care for your entire family. Don’t wait until you have a dental emergency, call our office today!