So What Happens At A Dental Hygiene Appointment?

December 10, 2019
Posted By: Louisa Cullen

Your oral health therapist works as part of the dental team to care for and help you to maintain your oral health. We diagnose and treat gum disease using preventive, educational and therapeutic methods. Your first appointment may be one hour long. Although this may seem like a long time in the dental chair a lot is covered in one appointment. In this article we will describe what you can expect from your first Hygiene visit.


We’ll have a chat!

At the beginning of your appointment we will first sit and discuss your dental history and any current concerns you may be experiencing. This may include sensitivity, tenderness, bad breath or taste, bleeding gums, medical history including medications, medical conditions and allergies. This way we can provide the care best suited to your needs.

Also up for discussion may be your current home care habits and routines such as brushing frequency, flossing, water intake and the best toothpaste for you.

Based on what you tell us and what we find during the assessment we can recommend some changes at home to help your mouth stay healthy between appointments.


We’ll have a thorough look around your mouth!

Plaque is one of the main contributing factors to both gum disease and decay so we will be checking your plaque levels and areas you may be struggling to reach at home.Inspecting your lips, cheeks, gums, palate and tongue is all part of our exam, during this time if there is anything out of the ordinary we will show you and keep you informed about what it may be. If something is present that we cannot identify a referral will be sent to the appropriate clinicians. Checking saliva flow and function is an important part of the assessment phase. This is because saliva helps to wash away plaque and food debris keeping your mouth healthy.

Charting is an important diagnostic tool to determine gum health. this can take 10-15 mins depending on the condition of your gums. During this assessment we use a probe that has measurements between 1-10mm this helps us to measure where your gum attaches to the tooth and gum recession. You will hear numbers being called out and entered into the computer. Probing feels different for everyone depending on the level of disease present and for some it may feel like a dull pinch.


 We’ll have another chat!

After the assessment is complete it is important that we explain what has been found for your oral health and general health. When discussing diagnosis diagrams and models are often used. It is common to have only one appointment for assessment and treatment however some people may require an additional appointment or a much longer initial appointment to complete treatment. It is also possible that the level of disease requires a referral to a specialist and this would require a separate appointment.


My teeth are sensitive!

If the charting or probing was very uncomfortable or you experience significant sensitivity to cold air and water, we will recommend the use of a local anesthetic. This may be required for only some or all of your mouth to make the treatment as comfortable as possible.


Time for treatment!

Now we are at the treatment stage to clean deeply around your teeth and gums. We will start with the ultrasonic scaler.  This has a high pitched noise associated and uses tiny vibrations and water to remove calculus, plaque and stain from your teeth. We follow this up with hand instruments to remove any residual plaque and tartar, hand instruments can feel like a scratching sensation however there is no risk of harming the tooth surface. After checking your mouth is free of plaque and calculus with a probe and floss we use a mint polish to leave them feeling fresh and shiny.


A final chat and take home message!

Before you go we will go over recommendations of things you could improve or begin to do at home to keep your mouth healthy between appointments. This may include alterations to brushing and/or flossing techniques. We will also discuss the recall for you. This is  determined by your current oral health status and will be re-evaluated at every appointment.It is important to note that discomfort and tenderness can occur after treatment and your teeth and gums will often feel different for a couple of days after the plaque and tartar has been removed.

Your gums may need some TLC for a day or two. It can be a good idea to use warm salt water rinses to help with any inflammation. 


Covid-19 Red Setting
We are confidently compliant with all NZ Dental Council and Ministry of Health requirements. Please wear a surgical mask to your appointment and do not attend if you are feeling unwell or are self-isolating. Please follow the instructions at our front door. You may be required to wait in your car until we are ready for you to control patient flow at the front desk. Thanks for your patience as we prioritise the health and safety of our patients and staff.