Dental Hygienist Appointment – What Can You Expect?

Dental Hygienist Appointment – What Can You Expect?

Having good oral health is a good way to having overall good health. When we’re having dental problems like cavities or gum disease, that impairs our ability to eat and speak properly and it’s causing us bad breath and pain. A lot of people don’t realize how important dental hygiene is and what kind of negative effects can it have on their lives. They naturally assume that their at-home routine is enough and that they don’t have the schedule or attend a dental hygienist appointment. But that’s not entirely true.

Who is a dental hygienist?

Let’s put it this way. Your dentist works on solving the ongoing dental problems (cavities, gum disease etc.) and your dental hygienist work on preventing those issues. A dental hygienist appointment can go well with a regular dentist appointment, during which the hygienist will thoroughly examine your teeth, see if he/she can find signs of damage or disease, clean your teeth and provide useful tips on how to properly maintain good oral hygiene.

What goes on during a dental hygienist appointment?

During your first dental hygienist appointment, which is usually the screening appointment, the hygienist will do a thorough exam if your teeth, do a detailed medical history in order to make sure that you get the right type of care.

The hygienist can also ask you about your current medical conditions (if you have any) and if you’re taking any medication for it (as you know, some medication can have a negative impact on your teeth). Furthermore, he/she would also like to know more about your social habits e.g. if you smoke or drink and of course what goes into your daily dental hygiene routine.

During the dental appointment the hygienist might:

  1. Count how many teeth you have,
  2. Clean of the plaque from your teeth
  3. Check if there are any cavities or signs of decay on your teeth
  4. Polish and remove stains from your teeth
  5. Offer advice on how to keep good oral hygiene

How does the hygienist clean your teeth?

Dental Hygienist Appointment – Examination

Many of the patients think that a dental hygienist appointment only consists of cleaning your teeth, scarping of the plaque and removing stains. Well, before the actual cleaning and polishing process can begin, the hygienist will first need to examine your entire mouth. This is done using a small mirror (just like your dentist is using) which allows him/her to see every corner and check for signs of decay, gum inflammation or other detail problems. If the hygienist notices a severe dental problem, further steps will be discussed with the dentist and the actual cleaning will be postponed.

Removal of plaque and tartar

If there is no signs of dental problems (or after they have been taken care of) the dental hygienist will move to the next phase of the process which involves cleaning the plaque or tartar using a small tool called the scaler.

The scaler removes plaque/tartar from your gum line and in between your teeth. The amount of time the hygienist will spend on this is determined by how much plaque you have built up. You can somewhat minimize this by regularly brushing and flossing but even then, you won’t be able to get 100% of tartar.

During the dental hygienist appointment, the majority, if not 100%, of the plaque or tartar will be removed.

Teeth polishing is the next phase of your dental hygienist appointment

Once all (or the majority) of the plaque or built-up tartar is removed, the hygienist will further clean your teeth by using an electric toothbrush. With this toothbrush, the hygienist will remove any remaining plaque or tartar.

The detail hygienist will also use a toothpaste, but this will be slightly different. It will have a grittier texture and consistency, which ensures better cleaning and “scrapping”. Most dental hygienists and dentists recommend that you have this process done at least twice a year.


Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene. Once all the tartar and plaque is removed, dental hygienist will also floss your teeth, but more professionally and thoroughly (you can’t compare this with the flossing you’re doing at home).


Just like when brushing your teeth, one of the final steps in your dental hygienist appointment is rinsing. Rinsing makes sure that you get rid of any debris that might have left after the cleaning, polishing and flossing. The fluid you will be using is slightly different because it contains added fluoride.

Fluoride treatment as the finish of your dental hygienist appointment

This is truly the last stage of your dental hygienist appointment. The hygienist will let you decide what type of fluoride gel you would like them to use – there are different flavors available. The gel will go inside a mouthpiece, which is then placed over your teeth and you should wear it for a minute or so.

The goal of the fluoride treatment is to further improve the health of your teeth, kill any remaining bacteria that might cause cavities and to make your teeth stronger.

Is a dental hygienist appointment painful?

Usually, the entire process is comfortable and painless for the majority of patients. However, if you have gum inflammation, gum disease, tooth decay or you simply waited for a long time between two appointments, the cleaning might be a little uncomfortable. This is because the hygienist will have to work harder and longer in order to properly clean your teeth. So in order to make the cleaning process as comfortable and as short as possible, make sure that you have good at-home dental routine and schedule dental hygienist appointment at least twice a year.


Leave a Reply

Dr. Nguyen
Dr. Nguyen

Dr. Nguyen is committed to providing high-quality dentistry using state-of-the-art equipment to help you achieve improved oral health and the beautiful smile you deserve.

Dr. Nguyen has served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry and has many achievements such as: Invisalign Premier and Teen Provider, Pre-Fellow with Academy of General Dentistry, Graduate of Aesthetic Continuum, Engel Institute for Dental Implant Training, WaveOne Endodontic Training, HD President’s Club.

Dr. Nguyen enjoys spending time with his wife and three daughters, staying active in the gym, and trying out new restaurants.  When he isn’t at work, you can find him playing basketball, tennis, football, or hiking.

“I want to make you feel right at home, exceed your expectations, and provide an amazing experience!”