• Eric Crawford, DDS

The Fact of the Tooth

What to Expect at Your Next Dental

Hygiene Visit

By: Jayme Hoelting, RDH

Many people are afraid of the dentist, so much so they try to avoid

coming in for their routine checkup and cleaning. By knowing the

facts, you will have no reason for being scared, especially at your

dental hygiene visit. If you have any anxiety about your upcoming

appointment, let me put you at ease. Below I have put together a list

of things that you should expect.

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a specially trained dental professional. The

responsibilities of a dental hygienist include cleaning your teeth,

check to make sure everything is functioning properly and exam

your oral health. We are experts at dental cleanings and oral health


What Will Happen at Your Appointment?

Here is the break down of what your appointment would consist of, but is

not limited.

1. Update your health history. There have been so many recent studies

connecting your oral health to your overall health. Your dental health

can affect and be affected by other medical conditions such as

hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes. That is why this is

step 1 and is so very important. Please be prepared with any new

medication or diagnosis. I will ask if you have had any changes to

your medical history, medications, dental issues and any other

concerns that may affect your health.

2. Update necessary x-rays. X-rays are helpful tools to help determine

the health of your teeth and surrounding bone. Your teeth are twice as

long as they appear in your mouth. The root of the tooth lies below

the gum tissue and is nestled in the bone. All that we can see when

looking in our mouths is the crown of the tooth. The whole tooth

needs to be examined to illustrate the shape and size of the tooth and

if there is any decay or an infection present.

3. Examination of your throat. Oral cancer starts in the throat and as a

dental hygienist, we are trained to detect the early signs of this

disease. We can give a recommendation to run more tests or clear you

of any suspicions by taking a close look at your neck, throat and face.

4. Examination of your neck. When we examine your neck, we are

looking for any lumps or enlargements. These can be signs of other

maladies and if we suspect anything you may be required to get other

tests or visit with your primary doctor.

5. Examination of your jaw. We will check the temporomandibular

joint which is located right in front of the ear. We will be checking to

see if you are having any joint problems like pain, improper alignment

and malocclusion (bad bite).

6. Examination of your teeth and gums. Using specific tools, we will

check your teeth and gums. We are looking for where plaque and tarts

are most prominent and assess if your tooth enamel is healthy or if

some of your teeth have exposed dentin.

7. Measuring bone levels. We will use a probing tool to measure the

space between your teeth and gums. When we do this we will be

calling out a range of numbers, usually between 1 and 5. If there is a

measurement of more than 3 millimeters, this may be an indication

that your gums are receding due to periodontal disease.

8. Dental cleaning (scaling). Next we will clean your teeth by

removing plaque and tartar with a scaling instrument.

9. Polishing. By polishing your teeth, it helps keep them free from

stains and resistant to plaque formation. This step makes the tooth

surface smoother, making it easy for bacteria to slide off when you


10.Recommendations to improve your oral health. At this point we

will have made an educated conclusion of the health of your oral

health condition and if there was anything that was concerning we

will discuss with you our findings, recommendations and treatment

options. If there is a recommendation for further treatment, please do

not ignore it or prolong it. The earlier you get the issue fixed, the

higher your chances are for success.

When Should I See a Dental Hygienist?

It is highly recommended to see your dental hygienist at least once

every six months. This allows us to keep your dental record current and

track any unusual changes in your oral health. With having regular

dental visits you are taking control of your oral health and preserving

your teeth and your smile.

About the author: Jayme

has been a registered dental

hygienist since 2010 when she

graduated from the dental

hygiene program at Amarillo

College. She has been a

treasured asset to the team

of Eric Crawford DDS Family

Dentistry since 2011.

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