The Dental Hygienist is a licensed dental professional, registered with the dental association or regulatory body within The Bahamas. The dental hygienist serves as the gatekeeper to the world of oral health.

However, they look after more than just teeth and gums. The mouth offers a glimpse into the overall health of the body.

In this column, we will discuss the important role of the Dental Hygienist in promoting best dental health and avoiding systemic diseases.

Dental Hygienists partner with dentists to empower patients. They share information to help raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. In doing so, dental hygienists tend to focus their attention in four areas:

  • Oral hygiene and general education
  • Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis prevention and treatment
  • Relationship between dental disease and overall health
  • Caries (cavities or tooth decay)
  • Teeth Whitening

Oral Hygiene Education- Dental hygienists and oral health therapists are professional, highly-trained dental providers who focus on disease prevention, oral health promotion and clinical treatment and education. This is fundamental to the proactive management of oral health. Also, this includes dietary advice and smoking cessation programs.

Periodontal Disease– Dental hygienists also help to manage periodontal (gum) disease by carefully removing tartar that builds up on teeth. Also, they educate patients on strategies to reduce tartar buildup. Your dental hygienist will be among the first to support your efforts when your oral health shows significant improvement because of good personal practices.

If gingivitis is untreated, it may develop into periodontal disease; which weakens the bone support for your teeth and will eventually result in the loss of the tooth.

Also, periodontal disease has been linked to other diseases including; diabetes, heart disease and low birth weights babies. That is why we recommend treating periodontal disease quickly and properly.

Every time you brush and floss your teeth, look for the following:

  • Redness or swelling
  • Blood on your toothbrush, floss or pillow
  • Puffy gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Metallic taste in mouth
  • Overly sensitive teeth

Cavity Prevention and early diagnosis– Dental hygienists serve a key function to a personalized, cavity prevention plan. This involves a thorough and comprehensive assessment of individual risk factors, detection of cavities and incorporation of the patient’s medical and dental histories. They take bitewings and peri-apical x-rays to aid in the diagnosis of hard-to-reach cavities.

Dentists and hygienists cannot emphasize enough the importance of focusing on these four daily routines to maintain a healthy smile: brush at least twice per day, floss daily and rinse with a non-alcohol mouthwash.

Dental hygienists serve as your dental advocate and will give support throughout the journey to become and remain healthy. Hygienists serve a critically important function in our society. They love their work and enjoy a sense of professional and personal satisfaction when each patient becomes motivated to secure their dental fortunes with good oral health.

Patients who regularly visit their dental hygienist and take their advice have a much better chance to save their teeth, have reduced dental complications and become overall healthier.

Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]

Taking time to educate patients is important for the Dental Hygienist

Hygienist examining a young patient. Visits can start as early as 2-4 years old.

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