There are not many dental hygienists in Estonia, so this profession often raises many questions. Our people are used to seeing a dentist on all matters concerning the mouth and teeth. But is it wise to wait until problems arise and medical attention becomes necessary?
In our neighbouring countries Finland and Sweden, the services of dental hygienists are widespread and patients are aware of ways of preventing dental diseases. Dental hygienists have a crucial role in that, as they are the dentist’s primary helpers. The work pace of dentists’ is fast and when we think about it, we mostly have to put out fires, or, in other words, we have to repair the damage done by diseases. The appointments are often too short to spend time on teaching oral hygiene or preforming simple procedures for improving it.
However, our dental hygienist Maarja Paberit says that patients are becoming more knowledgeable. It is clear, that preventing diseases also means saving money. Treatment and prosthesis are often expensive and if the conditions in the oral cavity will not improve, the lifespan of fillings and prosthesis can also be quite short.
What does a dental hygienist do on a daily bases?
The majority of procedures are for cleaning the teeth and removing dental calculus. The goal is to sanitize the patient’s mouth and create suitable conditions for good oral hygiene. Patients often admit that they do not understand the technique for flossing, and they have even more questions once we try it. My primary goal is to understand the patient’s needs and find the reasons behind certain problems. The patients are very thankful for the pointers. I also preform teeth whitening, pigment removal and regular filling maintenance. All orthodontic patients are very welcome, since it is much harder to take care of your oral hygiene while wearing an appliance and external help might prove to be necessary. Regular check-ups are especially important for children and youngsters, especially for the development of good habits when it comes to oral hygiene.
When should the child’s first dentist’s appointment take place?
Your child should see a dentist and/or a dental hygienist at least twice a year. Your child’s first appointment should be between the ages of 1 and 1,5. Hopefully we do not need to treat the teeth in that age, but this way the child gets used to the dentist’s office and the dentist. Under no circumstances should you try to intimidate your child with dentists, dental treatment or injections. Maarja Paberit explains how dental health is related to hygiene and what to do to avoid problems.
Caries is an infectious disease and the most critical months, in terms of infection, are the 18th to 30th month. The most common microbe that causes caries is Streptococcus Mutans; the infector is usually the mother. Therefore, the toddler should have his/her own dishes that others do not use, and the pacifier should not be put into the mouth of the mother or anyone else. Of course, it is hard to keep track of it in reality, but you should at least try.
What is baby bottle caries?
The biggest enemy of children’s teeth can be the feeding bottle. Baby bottle caries emerges if the child’s teeth come to contact with carbohydrates for a long period of time. For example, this can happen when you put the child to bed with a feeding bottle that contains juice, sugar water, milk etc. It is also not advisable to constantly offer sweet drinks to the child while he/she is awake. The best drink is water. If the child is already used to sweet drinks, you can start watering them down until the child gets used to drinking water.
When should I start brushing my child’s teeth?
You should start once the very first tooth has erupted. There are silicone brushes for very small children that you place on the tip of your finger and flour free toothpastes. But the help of parents is also necessary for older children. Children tend to brush only the front teeth leaving the ones in the back untouched. But the cleaning of back teeth is very important because the first permanent tooth will erupt there. You can start using toothpastes that contain flour once the child is older and can rinse his/her mouth. Teeth need to be brushed twice a day: morning and night. If your child is thirsty before bedtime, you should definitely not give him/her sweet drinks. The healthiest drink is water.
What to do when my child refuses to brush his/her teeth?
Usually rewarding is a more efficient method than coercion. Sometimes it also helps when parent brush together with their children. Making it playful also helps. Sometimes the child does not like the taste of the toothpaste, so you can resolve the problem by trying a different one. Pharmacies and stores offer a wide range of different toothpastes for children. An electric toothbrush can also add motivation. Parents should definitely monitor their children’s tooth brushing at least till the age of 8, sometimes even longer. If a dental hygienist sees that the child is struggling with oral hygiene despite the instructions, then it is necessary to keep helping him/her. Believe us, your children will thank you some day!