You paid for a routine dental appointment and thought you were receiving care by a registered dental hygienist, but were you? Most states have strict laws governing the practice of dental hygiene and restrict anyone not properly licensed from providing dental hygiene services. But, it’s important to ask and make sure you are getting what you expected!
In this article, I will highlight 5 Things Your Dental Hygienist Wants You To Know:
1. Cavities are not the #1 cause of tooth loss.
Would you be surprised to hear that periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss? Cavities probably get more notoriety because they cause a significant amount of pain, but most people lose their teeth to gum disease, not decay. Dental hygienists spend a large portion of their career trying to prevent, combat, and control the devastating effects of periodontal disease to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime. Ask your dental hygienist about your periodontal health at your next preventive appointment.
2. Oral cancer is on the rise, and it’s not because of tobacco.
We have known for a long time that tobacco significantly increases the patient’s risk of mouth and throat cancers, but the incidence of oral cancer has risen sharply in patients who do not use tobacco products. The cause: Human papilloma virus. Dental hygienists are trained to screen for various head, neck, and oral pathologies during a routine dental appointment. Make sure your hygienist knows if you carry the human papilloma virus at your next preventive appointment.
3. You have every right to be concerned about radiation exposure.
People are more concerned about x-ray exposure than ever before. But did you know that an entire lifetime of routine dental x-rays would not equal the radiation exposure of one CT scan? Radiation is measured in units called millisieverts (MsV). One CT scan measures at 10 (MsV), while a set of 4 routine dental bitewings measures at 0.02 (MsV). That means you would have to have over 500 sets of routine dental bitewing x-rays to equal the exposure of one CT scan. Additionally, computerized radiography continues to decrease the amount of dental radiation exposure. Dental hygienists are highly trained in dental radiography and are committed to using the lowest exposures possible. Our knowledge of dental radiography helps us feel confident in recommending routine dental x-rays for the early detection of oral diseases.
4. Being honest about your medical history could save your life.
There are some medical conditions that can significantly impact the way we provide oral healthcare. Hygienists are trained to evaluate medical histories and investigate the link between oral health and overall health. Being honest with your hygienist about your medical history can prevent life-threatening complications from receiving routine dental care. Additionally, your hygienist can individualize your preventive and/or periodontal care based on your unique needs.
5. America is in the midst of a dental crisis.
There are 130 million Americans who do not have dental insurance. There are millions of Americans who cannot afford traditional dental care and many who do not have adequate access to dental providers. America is in desperate need of more affordable and better access to dental care. Hygienists are committed to bridging the gap between medical and oral healthcare in America. We want to help every American keep their teeth for a lifetime!
The next time you have a preventive appointment, make sure your provider is a registered dental hygienist – you deserve it!