Dental hygienists

Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adulthood.

It’s often a silent disease that can also cause bad breath and loose teeth.

More recently it’s been linked to health problems such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes and bacterial pneumonia.

Thankfully, this process of gum and jaw bone loss is preventable and our hygienists at Melbourne Dentist are here to show you how.

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While regular, conscientious cleaning at home provides a good maintenance regime for a happy, healthy mouth, there are commonly  things that cannot be removed by your toothbrush.

If plaque remains in place for too long –  even as short as 24 hours – it can adhere to the teeth and calcify, creating ‘calculus’ or ‘tartar’.
Calculus is a hard, yellow  material that bonds to the tooth structure, most commonly along the line of the gums. Its coarse nature and bacterial load irritate the gums causing reddening, bleeding, and loss of gum tissue.
The bone underneath these gums will also be irritated and will slowly erode away. Eventually a tooth will be lost to this process – gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adulthood.

Thankfully, this process of gum and jaw bone loss is preventable, and if already present, it’s manageable.
Only professional cleans can remove calculus and heavy staining from teeth. Our hygienists at Melbourne Dentist can achieve this meticulously and comfortably. They will have your mouth feeling fresh and clean in no time.

Meet Our Staff

FAQ’s

What is a dental hygienist?

Our dental hygienists play an essential collaborative role in our practice.
Both of our hygienists are registered university graduates who are trained to ensure that all of our patients receive the most comprehensive holistic oral health care. They have broad experience in dentistry and great personalities to help make the whole process so much easier.
Their primary focus is on the prevention and treatment of gum disease, but in truth they offer so much more – read on below to find out what happens in a hygiene appointment.

Knowing that our hygienists are managing the preventive dental care in the practice, Dr Treherne can focus on other specialized and complex dental procedures.

CLICK HERE to meet our hygienists

What happens at a hygiene visit?

A hygiene visit is more than just teeth cleaning. It involves a number of other processes including:

  • Oral assessments
    • Updating and reviewing medical and dental history and ensuring accuracy of dental charting
    • Evaluating the condition of the gums by directly measuring gum pockets. This determines the position of the attachment of the gums to each tooth. There is a normal range for these measurements and its these values that determine what treatment is carried out, the maintenance visit timetable and the potential need for referral to a specialist periodontist
    • Evaluation of the gum tissues surrounding any implants present
    • Assessment of the adequacy of oral hygiene measures at home
  • X-rays
    • If indicated, periodic x-rays are taken. From these we can determine the condition of the existing restorations and their potential to encourage gum disease. Gum and bone health can also be monitored.
  • Removal of dental plaque, stains and calculus
      • Your teeth are meticulously cleaned over a sixty minute appointment.
      • An ultrasonic unit is used to detach and remove adhered calculus from the teeth. They are then gently hand-scaled to ensure all surfaces have been completely cleared of build-up. If this part of the process is rushed, small areas of build-up will remain hidden that will act as focal points for bacteria to adhere to at your very next meal.
      • Irregularities of the shape of existing fillings may also be removed by this process. ‘Overhangs’ encourage the retention of plaque – if they can’t be removed with a scaler, the filling should be replaced
      • A minty polish finishes your appointment to leave your teeth sparkling clean.
      • If your teeth are sensitive our hygienist will offer you various ways to lessen discomfort, including topical numbing pastes to desensitise the gums and gentle local anaesthetic where necessary.
  • Education
    • This is a very important part of the visit. If we can refine and improve your home hygiene measures, less calculus will collect before your next maintenance visit. Not only will your gums and supporting bone be preserved, but the next clean will be easier and the time between maintenance visits may be able to be extended.
    • A home care program is specifically designed for you. With so many products available on supermarket and pharmacy shelves these days, it can be difficult to know which ones will be right for you and how they should be correctly used.
    • The program will enable you to access all areas of your mouth, particularly those hard to reach areas or around complex dental work.
  • Teeth whitening services
    • Our hygiene appointments are also often combined with whitening top-ups, making it easier than ever to maintain your white smile as well as the health of your teeth.
  • Tooth impressions
    • Mouth impressions can be taken for the production of mouthguards or study casts. Study casts are used by Dr Treherne in planning more complex treatment.
Application of preventive sealants and fluorides to teeth
  • Planning for the future
    • Hygiene maintenance visits are important to keep disease at bay over the long term. They are not simply six monthly as tradition dictates. The interval is determined by a fairly strict protocol and can vary from two monthly to eighteen months. Correct measurement and monitoring of gum attachment is the key. It’s only by measuring the gum response to treatment and home care that we can set a maintenance plan.
    • If your gum disease has progressed to a certain point, we may recommend referral to a specialist periodontist. Our hygienists will help coordinate and monitor this process.

Why is periodontal maintenance necessary?

Dental plaque requires physical removal and while the techniques to do so can be taught, it’s the consistency of oral hygiene measures that’s important. The correct techniques need to be applied day in, day out with ever changing conditions in the mouth. Most people find this consistency of maintenance challenging and this is why regular oral hygiene visits are important.

This daily maintenance regime is only made more complicated as gum tissue is lost to gum disease. The root surfaces that were previously covered over by gums are now exposed into the mouth. These root surfaces are not like the smooth surfaces of the crown of the tooth. They are slightly rough and have irregularities and indentations making them much harder to maintain.

A further complication is that periodontal disease is actually complicated group of diseases that are effected by your bodies response to them. Some people are more susceptible due to this response.

Unfortunately, just getting to be disease free at one point in time does not guarantee a long term cure.

Many factors need to be considered in determining the maintenance interval – the frequency of maintenance depends on the individual and the reaction of the gums to home maintenance and treatment over time. At Melbourne Dentist, we have firm protocols in place to determine these intervals based on sound scientific principles.

With regular reviews and maintenance, serious costly treatments can be avoided or pushed further into the future.
The bulk of patients attending our practice remain vigilant in their maintenance and enjoy exceptional dental health.

What is periodontal (gum) disease?

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults and will effect most people at some time in their lives.
It is caused in most cases by a build-up of bacteria on our teeth called plaque.
The bacteria releases toxins and the body releases chemicals to counteract them. This cocktail of chemicals destroys gum tissue and eventually destroys the bone that supports these gums.
Once this bone is lost, it will never return and as more of it is lost the teeth loosen and eventually require removal.
It is a slowly progressing disease that is most often silent until the later stages.
The initial stage is called ‘gingivitis’ where there is bleeding, redness and swelling of the gum but no bone loss. This is easily reversible with no long term defects.
‘Periodontitis’ will develop if gingivitis is not treated. It is a disease that involves the gums and the deeper supporting tissues that surround the tooth.
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