What is a dental hygienist?
Dental hygienists are your partners in health. They are health care professionals who teach you how to keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy. They also can let you know if they see signs of other health problems. For example, did you know that a dental hygienist who looks inside your mouth can tell who's been smoking? You can ask your dental hygienist any questions you have about your teeth and gums.
What can I expect during an appointment with a dental hygienist?
Your dental hygienist will examine your mouth, teeth, and gums. He or she will clean your teeth and may take X rays (special pictures of teeth), give your teeth extra fluoride, or apply sealants. X rays are pictures of your teeth and bones. A fluoride treatment is a gel or foam that is put on your teeth to help keep them strong. Sealants are thin plastic coatings placed on your back teeth--sort of like a shield for your teeth. Your back teeth are full of places where germs called bacteria can hide and cause cavities. When sealants are applied, they fill in these places so no bacteria can hide there.
Why should I keep my teeth healthy?
Healthy teeth and gums are important for many reasons. Teeth bite, tear, and chew food when you eat. Teeth also help you speak clearly. Many letters of the alphabet cannot be sounded without the help of teeth (try saying "healthy teeth"). Clean, healthy teeth help keep the rest of your body healthy, too. And a sparkling smile always helps you look and feel your best!
Here are some tips to help you keep your teeth healthy & strong.
- Ask your dental hygienist to teach you how to brush & floss correctly.
- Don't eat sugary foods (like candy) or starchy foods (like pretzels) in between meals. Instead, try eating an apple, banana, or carrot. Drink milk instead of soda.
- If you do eat in between meals, be sure to brush your teeth when you are finished.
- Show off your smile to your parents and friends, and visit ADHA's Web site Kids' Stuff pages at www.adha.org to learn more and play games.