What is a Dental Hygienist or Therapist?

Dental hygienists and dental therapists are specially trained to work with the dental team with preventing and treating oral disease. Many are dual qualified as both a dental hygienist and dental therapist.

What is a hygienist session?

A dental hygienist is a professional when it comes to cleaning teeth. They have the skills, experience, equipment and instruments to clean each tooth thoroughly. They also have more time to clean your mouth fully, give advice on oral hygiene and are best equipped to help you keep your mouth healthy. Hygienists can also remove staining on your teeth and polish each tooth using a cleaning paste, leaving your mouth feeling fresh and your teeth smooth and clean.

What is an Air Polish?

Air Polishing is simple, effective and painless. It uses air and water pressure to deliver a controlled stream of sodium bicarbonate or glycine powders through a special nozzle.

The combination of the pressurised jet of air, water and powder works to comprehensively remove plaque and almost all staining.

Why doesn’t the dentist clean my teeth?

Some dentists will do this type of work themselves. However, many now understand that the hygienist has been specially trained to clean the whole mouth and can spend longer with you. They are also expert at teaching you how to look after your teeth and gums. Often the hygienist will spend a number of appointments getting the gums healthy ready for the dentist to restore the teeth with crowns and fillings.

What is the dental hygienist’s role in the practice?

Dental hygienists are mainly concerned with ‘preventive’ dental health and treating gum disease – showing you correct home care and helping you to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This includes professionally cleaning your teeth by removing plaque and tartar (usually called a ‘scale and polish’ or a prophylaxis). However, perhaps their most important role is showing you the best way to keep your teeth free of plaque. Plaque is a sticky coating that forms constantly on your teeth. Hygienists also give advice about diet and preventing tooth decay. The hygienist will work with your dental team to give you care that is tailored to your needs.

What is the dental therapist’s role in the practice?

As well as doing all the work that a dental hygienist does, a dental therapist can also carry out some dental procedures that patients are more used to a dentist doing. A dental therapist can do fillings, extract ‘baby’ teeth and do treatments using the same materials a dentist would. As long as an adult tooth does not need treatment to the nerve of the tooth, a dental therapist can fill or restore any part of the tooth that needs treatment. They do not do advanced restorative treatment, such as crowns and root canal treatments to adult teeth.

What other help can be given to adults?

Adults who have gum disease can have anti-bacterial gels and solutions applied under the gum to kill the bacteria causing gum disease, for example we use PerioChip for this purpose.

Another very important part of the hygienist’s work is showing you and telling you how to look after your mouth at home. The hygienist may also suggest giving up smoking, as this will reduce staining and improve your general health.

Research has also shown that smokers have more gum disease and lose more teeth than non-smokers. Your hygienist can advise you on various ways of giving up smoking. They can also give you special advice for home care if you have dental implants or orthodontic appliances.

Why is this treatment important?

Regular professional cleaning to remove plaque and tartar, combined with looking after your teeth and gums properly at home, will help keep your mouth healthy. A clean and healthy mouth will improve your appearance, help you to keep your teeth and give you fresh breath.

Can a hygienist help prevent dental disease?

This is what the training of the hygienist is all about. They will carefully remove the hard deposits of tartar (or ‘calculus’) that build up on the teeth and teach you how to prevent them coming back. This will do a lot to slow the progress of gum disease.

By recommending other preventive measures, the hygienist can help you keep to a routine that will slow down tooth decay. Regular visits and advice will help build your confidence in keeping your mouth healthy.

Does a Scale and Polish hurt?

Scaling and polishing is comfortable for the majority of patients. If you do have particularly sensitive teeth we would recommend booking an extended session so the hygienist can administer local anaesthetic.

Does a Scale and Polish hurt?

Your diet and cleaning regime is the most important aspect to keeping your mouth healthy. Without your input and regular maintenance, treatment is much less successful and the incidence of oral disease much higher. Your hygienist will explain how to remove plaque with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. They will also have shown you how to clean between your teeth with ‘interdental’ brushes or floss. There are many oral care products you can get, including specialist toothpastes, electric or ‘power’ toothbrushes, and mouthwashes. Your hygienist will recommend those that are best for you.

We recommend that you follow three simple steps to help keep your teeth and gums healthy:

Cutting down the amount of sugar in your diet, and the number of times that you eat during the day, can help to reduce decay. Your hygienist can help you by looking at your decay problem and your diet, and by making some recommendations for you to consider.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 10 minutes after meals can also help to prevent tooth decay. Chewing gum makes your mouth produce more saliva, which cancels out the acid produced in your mouth after drinking and eating.

How much does it cost to see a hygienist?

Please see our dental charges to find the most up to date fees to see a hygienist

Meet the team…

  • Lauren Fisher

    I started my career as a dental nurse in 2007. I was keen to become more involved in patient care so I completed a 3 year course in Dental Hygiene and Therapy at the University of Liverpool in 2011. As a Hygienist and Therapist the most enjoyable part of my job is when a patient leaves my surgery with a new found confidence in their teeth. A large proportion of my job is restoring teeth with composite bonding to improve people’s smiles as well as creating healthier gums which are close to their original state. With detailed oral hygiene instructions, thorough cleaning and/or cosmetic polishing it is satisfying to witness the restoration of people’s confidence. In my spare time I enjoy travelling and music festivals.

    • DipHe (2009)
    • Registration number: 173617
  • Zara Rana

    I graduated from the University of Manchester in 2019 with a degree in Oral Health Science. What I enjoy most about my job is meeting new people and positively impacting their attitude towards dental health and in some cases their general health. Having the ability to work as part of a team to enhance a patient’s day-to-day life in as little as one appointment is so rewarding.

    • BSc (2019)
    • Registration number: 283996

Can I make an appointment for new dentures?

Please contact us to make an appointment today with our one of our Dental Hygiene Therapists