If you don’t have many dental problems, you probably know your dental hygienist better than your dentist! Dental hygienists are there to help you maintain a healthy smile at home. We may teach you better ways to brush or floss or give you a high-five for doing a great job. We are also responsible for cleaning your teeth when you come to visit us. Before your next appointment, there are a few things we want you to know.

dental hygienist wondering about her next patient

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 of 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 debris and plaque sit under your gum tissue for days…weeks…6 months, your tissue starts to get infected. It’s kind of like leaving a sliver in your finger for an extended period; it gets red & swollen.

If you don’t believe us try this at-home experiment. Floss your teeth and then smell the floss. Gross, right? That smell is a combination of rotting food and bacteria. Now floss for 3 consecutive days and on the 4th day smell the floss. It isn’t as gross smelling right?

The one dead giveaway that you don’t floss: the tartar that builds up between your teeth is worth a thousand words! If you remove the bacteria daily you won’t get an extreme buildup of tartar.

2) “Soft Teeth” is Not an Excuse for Getting Cavities

Having soft teeth is kind of like saying you have soft bones – it’s not a real thing! Although certain dental abnormalities affect a very small percentage of people the more likely cause of dental problems is one of two things; diet and home care.

You don’t necessarily have an unhealthy diet, but you can destroy your teeth with milk or fruit. But your teeth can only handle so much. Every time you ingest something except water your body creates an acid to help digest the food or beverage. This acid also weakens your teeth; typically your saliva neutralizes that acid pretty quickly. If you constantly snack or sip on something your teeth are constantly soaking in acid which leads to decay.

As for home care, either you keep your teeth clean enough or you don’t – it’s that simple.

3) Avoiding a Visit to the Dentist Only Makes Things Worse

Most likely you “hate going to the dentist”, we KNOW! We hear it all the time. Side note: please don’t tell us this. 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. It’s the same with your teeth if you maintain regular dental checkups 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. Their appointments last about 1 hour and cost around $90.

Patient B visits the dentist every 4 years. Not only does this patient have 1 cleaning, but they have to go back for 2 more (involved cleanings) within the month for around $1000. They may also have other dental problems they need to address due to their lack of dental cleanings. This will add even more appointments and expenses to their life.

4) Kids do better without you

A little girl, excited for a dental visit

You would be surprised how well most children do in the dental chair. They haven’t had “old school” dental experiences as 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. Make sure that your presence makes the experience more comfortable and stress-free for your child. Parents are often surprised by 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 like tooth loss and infection in their bodies. It turns out that the more you floss the less dental work you need, the less often you need to visit the dentist.

6) Please Brush Your Teeth Before Your Appointment

We can’t stress this enough. If you’re too busy to brush your teeth before your appointment, bring your toothbrush or ask us for one when you get here so you can go brush your teeth in our bathroom. This makes it easier for us to clean your teeth and evaluate how well you take care of your teeth.

7) Yes, X-Rays are Necessary

We wouldn’t take x-rays if we don’t think they are necessary. Usually, most patients only need to get x-rays once per year unless they have problems going on in their mouth. X-rays give us an inside look at what’s going on with your teeth, bone, root and other structures that are not visible to the naked eye.

8) Use the Right Toothbrush and Use it Right

Don’t use a firm toothbrush and don’t brush too aggressively. When you use a toothbrush with firm bristles or brush too hard you can damage your teeth and your gums. If you’re not sure what type of toothbrush you should get, ask us for a recommendation. Electric toothbrushes are always the best option because even the laziest brushers can achieve a cleaner smile than with a manual toothbrush.

Don’t skip your appointment. If you’re overdue for your last dental cleaning or general dentistry exam, schedule it with our Rochester dental office as soon as possible. The more dental cleanings you skip, the more likely you will get cavities or gum disease. Please call our Rochester dental office to schedule an appointment at (248) 656-2020.