5 Things Your Dental Hygienist Wishes You Knew

1) We Know if You Floss

When you get your teeth cleaned and your hygienist asks "how often do you floss?" we actually already have a pretty good idea. A couple of things can clue us into how diligent you are with your home care.

– People who floss don't bleed and jump when they get their teeth cleaned. People who don't floss typically have a lot bleeding and wincing during a dental cleaning. Flossing is like a workout for your gum tissue, the more you do it the better you feel. It removes irritants under the gum tissue, if you let "stuff" sit under your gum tissue for days…weeks…6 months, your tissue starts to get infected. Its kind of like leaving a sliver in your finger for an extended period of time, it gets red, swollen and eventually pussy. Don't believe me? Try this at home experiment: Floss your teeth and then smell the floss- GROSS!, that smell is a combination of rotting food and bacteria. Now floss for 3 consecutive days on the 4th day smell the floss… much better.

– Dead giveaway- the tarter that builds up between your teeth is worth a thousand words! If you are removing that bacteria daily you won't get extreme build up of tartar.

2) "SOFT TEETH" is not an excuse for getting cavities

Having soft teeth is kind of like saying you have soft bones- its not a real thing! Although certain dental abnormalities effect a very small percentage of people the more likely cause of dental problems are one of two things 1) Diet  2) Home care

Diet- this doesn't mean you necessarily have an unhealthy diet, you can destroy your teeth with milk or fruit. But your teeth can only handle so much. Every time you ingest something with the exception of water your body creates an acid to help digest the food or beverage. This acid also weakens your teeth, typically your saliva will neutralize that acid pretty quickly. If you are constantly snacking or sipping on something your teeth are constantly soaking in acid which leads to decay.

Homecare- either you are keeping your teeth clean enough or you are not- its that simple

3) Avoiding us only makes things worse

Most likely you "hate going to the dentist", we KNOW! We hear it all the time. You may have also hated going to school when you were a child but you knew that if you didn't go there would be consequences. Its the same with your teeth, if you maintain regular dental check ups we can take care of problems when they are small, if you avoid us we don't find the problems until they are big, and expensive and time consuming.

For example: Patient A has dental cleanings every six months- they last about 1 hour and cost around $90.

Patient B visits the dentist every 4 years- not only does this patient have 1 cleaning he has to go back for 2 more (involved cleanings) within the month for around $1000

4) Kids do better without you

You would be surprised  how well most children do in the dental chair. They haven't had "old school" dental experiences like most adults have. They have nothing to fear, only prizes and new toothbrushes to gain. Kids do however tend to get more apprehensive when their parent sits in the room holding their hand, rubbing their leg and telling them "everything will be ok, no one is going to hurt you". For most kids that wouldn't even enter their mind. I am a mother of two children and I understand that your first priority is protecting them, you have to do what you feel is best for your child. Make sure that your presence is making the experience more comfortable and stress free for your child. Parents are often surprised how well their children do if they wait in the waiting room.

5) We don't like to "lecture" you on flossing either

My favorite dental appointments are the ones that don't require me reminding you that you should be flossing.  I know, you know that I want you to floss. It is frustrating to continuously try to help patients prevent dental problems and infection in their body. Day after day, patient after patient…

It turns out that the more you floss the less dental work you need, the less often you need to visit the dentist.