Dental hygienists are essential to any dental practice and are especially important in helping patients maintain good dental hygiene throughout the year. Working alongside the dentist, these hygienists provide specialized services with skill, all based on their professional training and experience. They also commonly spend the most time with patients during dental appointments.
What Exactly Is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a licensed or certified professional who works with the dental practice in a specialized way. The focus, however, is always on improving and maintaining the optimal oral health of the patients.
By providing a variety of services to patients, appointments become more streamlined, the patient experience is better, and the dentist is able to focus on the specific treatments and procedures themselves in a more efficient manner. In other words, no dental office can succeed without them.
What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?
To be more specific, here are seven responsibilities of a dental hygienist to show how beneficial they are to both dentists and patients.
1. Evaluates Your Dental Health
Your dental hygienist starts by reviewing both your health record and your dental history. They will ask you about past and current conditions and help you pinpoint any troubles you might be experiencing at that moment.
Next is an oral exam, with a search for tooth decay or other issues within the mouth and teeth to gain an overall assessment of your current dental health and to identify potentially problematic areas.
2. Takes a Series of Dental X-Rays
To gain a closer look at the condition of teeth, gums, and bone structure, your dental hygienist will take a series of dental x-rays for review by the dentist as well. These x-rays play a beneficial role in a patient’s preventive care and often in restorative measures also.
The dental x-rays can identify or confirm cavities, oral infections, gum disease, and other conditions not seen by the naked eye.
Spotting issues early on and treating them accordingly is assisted by the taking of these x-rays and also saves the dentist time in diagnosing and establishing a treatment plan.
Whether your hygienist takes x-rays during your visit depends on a variety of factors, but this is one of the important tasks performed.
3. Performs Dental Cleanings
The most common task patients associate with dental hygienists is the dental cleanings, usually scheduled every six months.
Dental cleaning skills rely on the hygienist’s knowledge and experience with various tools and techniques to remove plaque, tartar, and minimal stains from a patient’s teeth. For example, one technique includes removing tartar along the gum-lines, which are often missed with regular brushing.
4. Applies Preventive Care Measures
Once a patient’s dental cleaning is complete, the dental hygienist may apply a preventive care measure. These measures often include a fluoride treatment to strengthen teeth and fortify them to prevent excessive acid erosion to the enamel. For those patients with signs of early tooth decay, a fluoride treatment may reverse the condition before it turns into more severe problems.
Another preventive care measure performed by dental hygienists is the application of a sealant. This sealant is often beneficial in protecting tooth surfaces and deterring decay, particularly in children.
5. Provides Dental Care Tips to Patients
While the dental hygienist is there to help you achieve good dental hygiene, they also inform patients on practices to take to continue to experience optimal dental health. Education is key, and your hygienist will share specific steps you can take on your own to ensure you maintain the healthiest teeth and gums for years to come.
Tips they share may include the proper way to brush and floss your teeth, gums, and tongue. Dental hygienists can also suggest dental tools to use for ease and better care. Don’t’ be surprised if they also offer tips on healthy eating and other habits to protect and maintain your dental health.
Taking care of teeth and gums is their specialty, and passing on important tips to patients is part of who they are and what they do.
6. Serves as an Intermediary with the Dentist
A key role the dental hygienist plays is being the intermediary, or bridge, between a patient and the dentist. With a complete dental evaluation, they can efficiently brief the dentist on the findings and provide x-rays or other information as needed.
In addition, the hygienist will prepare the patient for the dentist’s exam, informing them of any issues found and potential options for treatment to talk over with the dentist. They may also assist the dentist in his or her examination and any procedures.
7. Updates Patient Records
During your dental visit and afterward, your dental hygienist will update your records so that your information is always current. This way, your dental team can review the records each time you visit and quickly gain an understanding of your past experiences and treatments and any current issues still in need of attention.
Schedule an Appointment with Lifetime Dental in Columbus Today
Whether you need a preventive dental cleaning and exam or are experiencing a problematic tooth, the professional, compassionate dental hygienists here at Lifetime Dental are ready to assist you and help you achieve better dental health. Contact our Columbus office today to schedule an appointment.
Sitting in the dentist’s chair can be a nerve wracking experience for some people. Whether you feel slightly tense or extremely anxious, you could be one of many people who feel worried, or have “dentist phobia”, when going to a dental appointment.
Take a deep breath, because there is a solution!
Anyone can feel jittery when headed to a dental or medical appointment. If patients cannot sit still in a dentist’s chair due to nerves or feel like they are fidgeting, among other worries, they might feel apprehensive to come to the dentist. But it is very important to attend 6-month biannual dental appointments to clean your teeth, check for cavities, assess dental health, and more.
Luckily, sedation dentistry is a well-established solution that can help ease an anxious patient’s nerves. So can you relax in the dentist’s chair? Read on to find out.
What Is Sedation Dentistry?
Sedation dentistry is a practice in dentistry where a patient can undergo mild, moderate, or strong sedation during dental procedures. Sedation is available to be administered via oral or inhaled (such as nitrous oxide, laughing gas) methods. These methods do not require the use of needles if the patient has a phobia of needles. If the patient can tolerate needles, other forms of sedation dentistry utilizes intravenous (IV) administration to deliver sedatives.
For patients who have anxiety, sedation dentistry offers a more comfortable experience at the dentist. This advancement allows a patient to foster healthy habits and prioritize tooth cleaning and care.
Sedation dentistry is a temporary state, partially or fully sedating the patient throughout a long or uncomfortable procedure. In some cases, a patient can drive home after becoming awake and alert following sedation. In other cases, it is recommended that the patient has a friend or family member drive them home.
All of these sedation techniques are often paired with a local anesthetic, or pain control. The sedatives do not stop or limit pain, but provide relaxation and help quiet negative thoughts. In combination with pain control, sedation dentistry can make any visit a pleasant experience.
Types of Sedation Dentistry Available
There are many types of sedation available in this field. Patients are invited to learn about each option and discuss their favorite options with their care provider.
Mild or Moderate Sedation
Can be delivered via a face mask, as “inhaled” sedation. This form typically wears off quickly, but it offers anxiety relief during the procedure.
Can be delivered orally as a tablet or pill. The patient will not be fully asleep and can arouse. This method also tends to help a patient feel calm and relaxed.
If a patient is moderately sedated, he or she might not remember the procedure after waking up, which some patients view as a benefit. Oxygen is available, vital signs are monitored, and reversal agents are available for sedation dentistry.
Typically delivered through an intravenous (IV) method. It is monitored by a licensed anesthesiologist. It’s offered for time-consuming procedures, under circumstances where deeper sedation and being nearly “asleep” is beneficial.
Deep sedation will help a patient be nearly fully unconscious. It requires a dentist to have qualified training. Dentists should have oxygen and reversal agent drugs available for deep sedation.
General anesthesia will induce a sleep-like state, allowing a patient to be fully unconscious during a procedure. General anesthesia requires a dentist to have qualified training. Dentists should have oxygen and reversal agent drugs available for general anesthesia. There are some contraindicating factors to general anesthesia, such as certain medications, sleep apnea, and obesity, so it is important to inform your dentist and anesthesiologist of your full medical history.
Benefits of Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry exists to provide our patients with an extremely positive and relaxing experience. At Lifetime Dental Health in Columbus, OH, all of our patients’ wellbeing and enjoyment is our priority. Healthcare and dentistry should be an enjoyable experience, even if there is some anxiety involved.
By offering sedation dentistry at our practice, our team hopes to make dental procedures more comfortable. This article is intended to inform and educate patients about their options.
While you might have already thought about some benefits of sedation dentistry, the commonly associated benefits may include:
Relieving feelings of anxiety or fear, including “dental phobia”
Allowing the patient to relax in the dentist’s chair
Easing discomfort if the patient has a strong gag reflex
Feeling like a procedure only lasted a few minutes or took no time at all
Thinking that a procedure was not as bad as it seemed like it would be
Helping a patient feel more relaxed if the patient has sensitive teeth or sensitive senses, such as sensitivity to noises, lights, or touch
Relaxing a patient who is highly sensitive to pain, and just the thought of a painful procedure causes stress
Assisting a patient who must undergo multiple or time-consuming procedures
A patient who is pregnant or allergic to sedatives should not undergo sedation dentistry. Other health conditions might restrict or limit a patient’s ability to obtain sedation. These health conditions, benefits, and limitations will be thoroughly discussed between the patient and the dentist when considering sedation dentistry.
Children are sometimes able to undergo sedation dentistry, as well. Because children can be very nervous about going to the dentist, this might be a promising option to ensure that a child obtains dental care in a positive, fearless environment.
Whether an adult or child is interested in sedation dentistry, being interested in this procedure is the first step towards feeling more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
If you would like to learn more about sedation dentistry, you can do so by contacting our team at Lifetime Dental Health today.
You’ve scheduled your dental hygiene exam, now what? How can you be sure you get the most out of it and benefit your overall health as well? There are different answers to this question, and knowing them ahead of time can help you prepare for a better experience.
Get the Most Out of Your Next Dentist Appointment
Instead of viewing your appointment as just another routine cleaning or exam, it has the potential to be so much more. Here are five proactive ways to get the most out of your next dentist appointment.
1. Assess Your Dental Health Before Arriving at Your Appointment
Before you arrive for your appointment, assess your dental health at the present moment. You don’t need to know all the symptoms or names for dental issues, just identify what you experience daily while eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing. Things to look for include:
Are any specific teeth sensitive to hot or cold? While you may not be aware you have a cavity, a tooth may seem overly sensitive to that morning coffee or ice cream dessert after dinner.
Do your gums bleed while flossing? Perhaps you floss, and a certain area of your gums bleeds, indicating gum disease might be present.
Do you have sores in your mouth? If so, consider how long you’ve had them. Normally mouth sores disappear on their own, but those that don’t may be an issue, including an abscessed tooth or a possible indicator of oral cancer.
Is your bad breath not responding to toothpastes and mouthwashes? Chronic bad breath not treatable by brushing and using a mouthwash can be a condition of a more serious oral health issue.
Are any teeth noticeably darker than others? Glance in a mirror and see if there are any tooth discolorations. If so, is this making you self-conscious? Several things can cause tooth discoloration, from staining to health issues.
Is your jaw tired or sore upon waking in the mornings? If so, mention this to your dentist. You might grind your teeth while sleeping or clench your jaw unknowingly.
While your dentist will look for these also, you may forget to mention symptoms if not prepared. A way to smartly get around this is to write down a list of issues you are experiencing as well as any questions you may have.
2. Identify Any Changes to Your Medical History
The condition of your mouth is part of your overall health, and symptoms displayed here can be connected to medical issues elsewhere in your body.
Whether this is your initial appointment with a new dentist or you’ve been with them for years, every appointment is the best time to update any medical information in your file.
Changes in your health can happen between dental visits. You may be diagnosed with a certain condition, prescribed new medications, or choose a new vitamin and supplement routine to follow. All of these can affect your dental health as well, so letting your dentist know can help speed up a diagnosis.
For instance, issues affecting your teeth and gums can be an indicator of diabetes. Any diagnosis for respiratory or gastrointestinal disease can be the cause of your chronic bad breath. If you receive a diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome, a common symptom is dry mouth, which can lead to cavities as well.
Are you taking any different medications since your last visit? Bring the bottles with you to the appointment or write them down, including the dosage information. Since many prescriptions can have side effects, some of these can directly affect your oral health.
For example, blood-pressure regulating medication, a prescription to help with depression, or a prescribed allergy medication can lead to dry mouth. If you take blood thinners, your dentist will need to know this before any procedure which may cause you to bleed.
Also, inform your dentist of any vitamins and supplements you’ve added to your diet recently.
By knowing your most updated medical history, your dentist can better determine when a dental issue is isolated to your oral health and when it may be connected to another health issue.
3. Reveal Any Anxiety You Feel at the Appointment
If dental appointments make you anxious, you’re not alone. Even scheduling a dentist appointment can make many patients nervous long before stepping inside the office.
You don’t have to hide your anxiety. When you schedule your appointment, mention it to the staff and ask them to relay it to your dentist. Once you arrive for your appointment, openly discuss any anxiety with your dental hygienist and your dentist directly.
A few ways to reveal your apprehension are to:
Tell them you feel nervous, anxious, or scared. If you have a particular reason, such as a bad past experience with a dentist, let them know.
Express any fears, such as the fear of injections or shots.
If pain is a concern, start off by revealing any current pain or sensitivity you experience, so your dental team will know to take special care in those areas.
Explain you are protective of your personal space, and it’s difficult to let anyone get close to you.
Working together, you can come up with ways to alleviate the anxiety, fear, or apprehension. For example, choose a signal to use to alert your dentist you want to take a break during a procedure. This solution gives you more control during the appointment and can help you avoid feeling panicked at any time.
You may also want to discuss undergoing sedation during a procedure. While you won’t be asleep and completely unaware of what is going on, you will remain calmer throughout. Another option is to bring a trusted companion with you to the appointment.
Essentially, learning to trust your dental team is the key to overcoming many of these fears and apprehensions.
4. Develop a Suitable Treatment Plan
Following your exam, if further procedures are necessary, develop a treatment plan that works for you. Learn what your options are and how much time each one will take. Also, ask about costs and payment options available.
Seek out explanations for anything you don’t understand. Ask for details, or choose to accept an overview of a procedure if the details make you overly anxious.
Schedule appointments before you leave, so you’ll know what to expect going forward.
5. Ask What You Can Do to Continue with Good Oral Health
Even if you already practice good oral hygiene, your dental team may have other suggestions on how to maintain your teeth and gums. Ask for recommendations, such as the best mouthwash to use for your sensitive teeth, occasional bad breath, or congregating bacteria.
Your dental health may differ from others in your household, so knowing unique ways to keep and positively affect your own is essential. Knowing how to continue with good oral health can also lessen the number of appointments you’ll likely need in the future.
Contact Lifetime Dental Health for All Your Dental Needs
Making the most of a dental visit is a valuable way to spend your time and can also benefit your overall health. Let Lifetime Dental Health help you get the most out of your next visit by scheduling an appointment with us today. Our team of compassionate and experienced professionals is here to help with whatever dental needs you have now and in the future.
Dental cavities, which dentists may refer to as caries, or tooth decay represent holes in the teeth forming when acid in your mouth (oral cavity), erodes your tooth enamel. Untreated cavities or tooth decay can not only cause toothaches, but they can result in infections and tooth extractions. Individuals of all ages can have tooth decay.
Having the proper dental care, including flossing, brushing, and regular checkups with a dentist in Columbus, OH, can help prevent tooth decay.
Causes of Tooth Decay
Our mouths are chock-full of bacteria. While some good bacteria are certainly helpful, others can be harmful, including those that play a tooth decay role. The food combines with these bacteria to form a sticky, soft film named plaque. The bacteria present in plaque use the starch and sugar in the foods and drinks we consume to produce acids.
The acids begin to erode the minerals in the enamel. Over time, the plaque can turn into tartar. In addition to damaging the teeth, plaque and tartar can also irritate your gums and cause gum disease. If you don’t take care of your teeth and/or eat and drink too much sugar or starch, your enamel will continue to lose minerals. This leads to tooth decay.
Symptoms of Cavities
At the onset of tooth decay, there are usually no symptoms. As tooth decay worsens, it can cause:
Brown or white spots on the tooth’s surface
Sensitivity of the teeth to sweets, heat, or cold
Diagnosis Cavities/Tooth Decay
Having dental checkups at least twice a year is the best way to detect cavities early when the dentist can save a large part of the tooth. A tooth with decay or a cavity will be softer when the dentist examines it. You can also do dental x-rays. X-rays show cavities before the decay becomes visible.
Our dentists can usually identify tooth decay in the following ways:
Asking about sensitivity or toothache
Examining your teeth and mouth
Using dental instruments to probe your teeth to check soft areas
Having a look at dental X-rays, which can show the extent of decay and cavities
Our dentist will also be able to tell you which of the three forms of cavities you have: pit and fissure, smooth surface, or root.
Treatments for Cavities/Tooth Decay
Regular checkups can help identify cavities and tooth decay before they lead to more serious problems. The earlier you seek help, your chances to reverse the early stages of tooth decay and prevent its progression are greater. If tooth decay is treated before it starts causing pain, you probably won’t need extensive treatment. Options for treatment include:
Fluoride treatment: If tooth decay has just started, fluoride treatment can help restore tooth enamel and reverse tooth decay in the early stages. Fluoride treatments contain more fluoride than the amount found in toothpaste, tap water, and mouthwashes. Fluoride treatments can be liquid, gel, or foam that are brushed onto your teeth or placed on a small tray that fits your teeth.
Dental Crowns: For weakened teeth extensive decay, a crown may be needed. This is a custom-made cover that replaces the entire natural crown of your tooth. Your dentist drills the entire damaged area and enough of the rest of the tooth to ensure a good fit. Crowns can be made of gold, high-strength porcelain, resin, metal-fused porcelain, or other materials.
Dental Fillings: Fillings, also referred to as restorations, are the primary treatment option when tooth decay has progressed beyond the initial stage. Various materials are used for fillings, such as porcelain, tooth-colored composite resins, or dental amalgam.
Root canals: When the cavity or decay finds its way to the pulp (which is inside the tooth), it may be necessary to have a root canal. Instead of removing a tooth, this treatment repairs and saves a tooth that is infected or damaged badly. The pulp of the diseased tooth is removed. Sometimes, a drug is inserted into the root canal to clear any infection. The pulp is then replaced by a filling.
Tooth extractions: Some teeth are so badly damaged that they cannot be restored and must be removed. Extracting one tooth can leave a gap allowing the other teeth to move. If possible, consider getting a bridge or dental implant to replace the missing tooth.
Good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups are essential to prevent tooth cavities or decay. New dental treatments, including fluoride rinses, and dental sealants, have reduced the risk of tooth decay in children and adolescents. Adults with dental fillings from childhood can develop cavities around the edges of old fillings. It is advisable to ask one of our dentists, Dr. Love, Dr. Barry, or Dr. DiDonato what steps you can take to protect your oral health and prevent tooth decay.
Book Your Dental Exam and Cleaning at Lifetime Dental Health
Are you due for a dental exam and cleaning? Along with brushing and flossing daily, visiting us twice a year for a dental exam and cleaning is one of your best defenses to prevent cavities. Don’t ignore your oral health. Call us at 614-321-1887 or book your appointment online.
We’ve all got our reasons. Money. Time. The fear of pain. Juggling insurance. Facing one more reminder that we really should be flossing more. Any of these might cause us to avoid and put off regular visits to the dentist.
Has it been so long since the last dental appointment that you’re not even sure how to find a dentist you can trust? Or perhaps you know and love your dentist but you dread the idea of trying to catch up on life with the hygienist while your mouth is being propped open by a tiny plastic jack. (Yes, we think about that too!)
Columbus dentists, Dr. Barry, and Dr. Love, are happy to help you prioritize your dental health, which is why we go to great lengths to remove any barrier that might keep you from stepping through our doors.
Essential oils are time-tested treasures gaining new popularity among fans everywhere. These potent liquids are fun and fresh ingredients that you can customize for almost any oral hygiene need. As with any DIY dental treatment, do your research and be cautious. Not all oils are safe to ingest, and some may hurt you if applied directly to your skin.
Essential oils are distilled from plants and usually sold singularly with one ingredient per bottle, although you can also find oil blend products. Like other supplements, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate their safety or efficacy.