A hygienist's main duty is to prevent and treat gum disease. During your appointment your hygienist can provide oral hygiene advice, remove stain, tartar, hard deposits and plaque. The hygienist can demonstrate correct flossing and brushing techniques as well as other oral hygiene techniques according to your personal requirements. You can receive dietary advice and other information such as how to give up smoking.
The hygienist may also advise you on the progression of gum disease, but for more advanced conditions you may be referred to a dentist for an assessment. After the assessment the hygienist would be able to treat you under the prescription of a dentist.
It is now possible to see a dental hygienist privately, without first seeing a dentist for an oral examination. This is called treatment under direct access. The hygienist can carry out treatment as outlined above.
Dental hygienists can't diagnose or give the likely outcome of such diseases as decaying or broken teeth, or prescribe antibiotics, painkillers or any other drugs to alleviate symptoms. Only a dentist will be able to fully diagnose any oral conditions and provide a treatment plan.
Visits to hygienists do not substitute for full dental examinations, the frequency of which depend on your needs and can vary from 6 months to 2 years.
If the hygienist advises you to see a dentist, it is because they feel it is in your best interest, or it is outside the scope of what they are trained and allowed to do, or they are uncertain about treating you without further advice.
In very rare circumstances a hygienist may be unable to start treatment until you have seen a dentist. These may relate to your medical history and general health or the condition of your mouth.
My husband, Haydon, has been a patient at Goldsworth Road Dental Centre Practice since he was a child and when I wanted a second opinion about a problem I was having, he recommended them to me.
My NHS dentist had said I needed root canal treatment on one of my front teeth but I was unsure. You get to know your own mouth and this tooth had been a problem since I was about 10 years old. I used to have a great NHS dentist but she went on maternity leave and never returned, so every six months I would see a different dentist.
Goldsworth Road Dental Centre Practice is lovely and bright, airy, clean and well run by nice people. You see the same dentist and hygienist every time you visit and they know you and your mouth. You can build a relationship and they get to know you personally.
My dentist took one look, took x-rays and said that I didn't need a root canal but that the problem could be managed with good dental hygiene. All my other teeth are fine but there's just this one tooth that is a problem.
I would strongly recommend getting a second opinion if something doesn't feel right because you just don't know. You get what you pay for with private dentistry – but this practice actually saved me money!
I had never really had a proper hygiene appointment before. I have been seeing Karen the hygienist regularly for a couple of years now and she has taught me how to properly maintain my teeth. Karen has made me see just how important dental hygiene is. Her advice is very clear and she says I am managing to keep up well with my oral hygiene at home.
With all the excellent dentistry and advice from the Goldsworth Road team I haven't had to undergo any expensive procedures and still haven't had to spend lots of money, so that's great!