Hygiene Therapy is a preventative treatment used to remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gum line to help avoid periodontal disease.
What is Oral Hygiene Therapy?
Oral hygiene therapy is the prevention of plaque build-up, a sticky film of bacteria and food, that forms on the teeth. Plaque adheres to the crevices and fissures of the teeth and generates acids that, when not removed on a regular basis, slowly eat away, or decay, the protective enamel surface of the teeth, causing holes (cavities) to form.
Plaque also irritates gums and can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Toothbrushing and flossing remove plaque from teeth, and antiseptic mouthwashes kill some of the bacteria that help form plaque. Fluoride—in toothpaste, drinking water, or dental treatments—also helps to protect teeth by binding with enamel to make it stronger.
Professional Hygiene Treatments
Preventative services can be perform include fluoride treatments, sealant application, and scaling and root planning. The dentist can also perform such diagnostic services as x-ray imaging and oral cancer screening as well as such treatment services as fillings, crowns, and bridges. The range of dental hygiene professional services includes all three levels of care: the preventive oral prophylaxis, therapeutic scaling and root planing, and supportive periodontal maintenance care. This clearly indicates the need for dental hygienists to have assessment skills before providing any service to the patient/client.
The dental hygienist or dentist uses specialized instruments to gently remove these deposits without harming the teeth.
Fine hand tools
Once the larger pieces of tartar are gone, the dental worker will switch to finer hand tools – scalers or curettes in dental-speak – to remove smaller deposits and smoothen the tooth surfaces. These tools are curved and shaped to match the curves of the teeth. They allow smaller tartar deposits to be removed by carefully scraping them off with a gentle to moderate amount of pressure.
Once all the surfaces are smooth, the dental worker may polish your teeth. with a prophylaxis paste – a special gritty toothpaste-like material – spun around on the teeth to make them shiny smooth.
Fluoride foam or gel is then placed into small, flexible foam trays and placed over the teeth for 30 seconds. The fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth since the acids from bacteria in dental tartar and plaque will have weakened the surfaces.
Oral Hygiene – Periodontal Disease
When periodontal disease is present, removal of deposits on the teeth is no longer a preventive service. In the presence of periodontal disease, periodontal debridement (therapeutic scaling and/or root planing, also known as nonsurgical periodontal therapy) is indicated. Often the administration of local anesthesia is required for pain control at this level of care. These procedures can be the definitive treatment for gingivitis or early periodontal disease, or can be a pre-surgical treatment when disease is more advanced.
Once periodontal therapy, either surgical or nonsurgical, is complete, supportive periodontal maintenance care is implemented. This includes continuing care visits where the patient’s oral health is monitored and debridement procedures are performed to prevent the return to a disease state. Other components of nonsurgical periodontal therapy and supportive periodontal maintenance care could include subgingival antimicrobial irrigation and treatment for dentinal hypersensitivity.