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Will the hygienist remove the enamel on my teeth?

12-06-2014

The hygienist will of course not remove the enamel on your teeth. In fact, he will do just the opposite. He will strive to make the enamel on your teeth stronger, healthier and shinier.

Enamel, the visible part of the teeth, is the hardest substance in the body. It is however not impervious to corrosion from acids. Acids from certain fruits along with those produced from fermentation of carbohydrates from leftover food debris can bore tiny holes on the enamel and create tooth cavities. Mouth bacteria can seep through the cavities as well as underneath the teeth, causing tooth decay or gum disease. The hygienist job is to prevent this from happening.

When you visit your hygienist, you will be given prophylaxis, a preventive dental procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar deposits followed by a thorough cleaning and polishing of the teeth. Plaque is the soft, yellowish film of bacteria that sticks to the teeth, gums, tongue and rest of your oral cavity. Tartar is plaque that has hardened over time. Regular brushing and flossing of the teeth will normally not work in removing tartar deposits. Plaque and tartar left on and underneath the teeth provide ideal conditions for more and more bacteria to thrive in the mouth.

The hygienist has specialised tools for removing plaque and tartar. To remove the larger tartar deposits, he has an ultrasonic instrument that uses vibration and water spray to loosen and wash them off. To pry out the smaller deposits on, around and underneath the teeth, he has fine hand tools called scalers and curettes with specially shaped tips and edges. Using these instruments, the hygienist will give you what is known as root planing and scaling, a deep cleaning of the gums. This involves the scraping off of the hardened plaque or tartar from above and below the gum line followed by the careful smoothing of the rough spots on the tooth root where decay-causing bacteria can further gather, become plaque and harden into tartar. Once the teeth surfaces are smooth and free of plaque and tartar deposits, they will next be polished by the hygienist using another special instrument, one with a soft rubber tipped cup for administering the tooth polish paste. Finally, the hygienist will apply flavoured fluoride to make your teeth stronger.

Professional dental cleaning is not the only thing your hygienist can do for you to keep your teeth enamel from wearing down. A hygienist is also trained to provide patience education and guidance on proper oral hygiene practices, including correct cleaning techniques, teeth-friendly dietary choices and habits to avoid. Aside from corrosion by acids from food fermenting in the mouth, your teeth enamel can be worn thin due to other causes, such as anorexia and other eating disorders, by stress, by binge drinking, by smoking, by taking certain kinds of medication, by bruxism or habitual teeth grinding during sleep, and so forth. If you want to know more about ways of caring for your teeth, just visit your hygienist regularly.

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