Hygiene and the Heart


Hygiene and the Heart

Episode 8

Hello and welcome to SimplifiHealth. My name is Aurelia Byrne. I am a registered Dental Hygienist. I work at Stonebriar Smile Design in Frisco, Texas and a proud member of the Hygiene With Heart Team.

Today, I want to talk to you guys about what you should be looking for when you go in for a new patient appointment at a dental office and what you should expect from your dental hygienist. This is very, very important because a lot of people don't realize that the dental hygienist is the first set of eyes that will look at you overall.

A dental hygienist should always read your medical history and go over with you thoroughly. A lot of you may be on some medications that affect the gums and the teeth. This is very important because we want to stop any potential dental infections or periodontal disease. So if your dental hygienist isn't looking at your medical history and looking at you as a whole person instead of just your teeth, then you need to make sure that they are. 

The next thing is probing of the gums. That is when—and maybe you have experienced it before—a dental hygienist goes in and actually does measurements and calls them out 3-3-2-2 so on and so forth. The probing of the gums is extremely crucial because this is where we're measuring the gum tissue around each individual too. Healthy gum tissue around the tooth is 3 millimeters and below. If you're getting into 4s and 5s, then you are having a bacterial infection and that is not good.

When you get into bigger pockets like 6s and 7s, that means you have a substantial amount of bone that has been lost from the neck of a tooth down below. Three and two millimeters of pocket—the healthy pockets—the toothbrush is able to get in there to remove any of the bacterial plaque. Anything that's greater, the toothbrush bristle is not microscopically allowed to go down there to disturb and disrupt the plaque. Any plaque that is not disturbed and disrupted is then turned into tartar in about 12 days. It metamorphosizes into something hard and anaerobic. It lives in the tissue down below and basically thrives and gets bigger. This is a bacterial infection. This is where if you’re brushing your teeth, eating something, and you have blood in your mouth which is not a good sign.

Probing is the number one thing that every dental hygienist should do at least once year—very, very, very important. This will determine if you have periodontal disease or gingivitis. Inflammation of the mouth is huge because we are able to control that.

An inflammation is linked to so many systemic illnesses. It’s linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many more systemic illnesses that people are just not aware of. If you have inflammation in your mouth and a cardiovascular disease, the same type of bacterium that lives in your mouth actually lives in the arteries of your heart. Somebody's bacterias are more aggressive than others. If you have inflammation in your mouth like a bacterial infection and cardiovascular disease, you have to imagine that your heart is pumping blood all through your system all day. Every 90 seconds it’s filtering through. Your mouth is in very close proximity to your heart. So all of that bacterium is just getting pumped through your system constantly.

Your body always wants to fight off something that's negative so your body is in a constant state of inflammation. The inflammation is caused by the white blood cells wanting to attack what is bad. So if you have something like a cardiovascular disease and you're trying to get healthy, but your inflammation in your mouth is not controlled, your body is on a crucial overload of fighting disease. It’s very, very important. If you have family members or yourself who has these type of issues—even high blood pressure, that's a cardiovascular disease. Nobody really realizes that but that is a cardiovascular disease; high cholesterol, things like that—these are all very, very important markers that you should be looking for when you're going into the dental office and getting treated. 

The other thing is try to avoid these cleanings that are 10–15 minutes long. They're not doing you any justice, whatsoever. It is virtually impossible to get a thorough cleaning in 10–15 minutes. If that is your experience normally at a dental office, that is not good. There's been many, many times where our patients have come in, they are new patients, and they're coming into our office and they're like, “I go every 6 months to my dentist and dah-dah-dah…” and I look in their mouth and they have tartar below the gum line and they’re bleeding when I'm probing, this is this is not acceptable. Unfortunately, I have to tell them, “Hey, I know you’ve been getting your teeth cleaned every six months but something is not right.” I don't usually explain to them that their dentist or hygienist is doing a negative job, but in reality, they kind of are. So please, be aware of of those types of cleanings.

A lot of times, there are coupons in the mail that you get sent for $20 for a cleaning, these are all business strategies to get new patients in the door. I hate to give away all the secrets but that is the truth. A lot of times, you're not getting what you are paying for—or you are getting what you're paying for, so if you’re going to get a $20 cleaning, you’re going to get a $20 job. These are the things that you must be aware of as a patient.

I think that's about it as far as what I want to talk to you about what to expect. The problem is a lot of the insurance companies nowadays, or even in the past, would let the patient have a preventative treatment. They recover at 100%, that is, if they do not have gum disease. So there's a difference between a simple cleaning versus someone who has to get a deeper cleaning. You need to be aware of those differences because it’s completely a different matter. 

My name is Aurelia Byrne. I’m so glad that I was able to shed some light on cleaning and what to expect when you go to a dental office. I hope that this was helpful for you. Thank you.

Episode Description


Do you know what should happen at your routine dental cleaning appointment?

This Symplifihealth episode is focused on what you as a patient should be experiencing at your dental cleaning appointment. In order to be your own healthcare advocate, you need to understand what should be happening at any of your preventive appointments. Today we will cover what to expect at your dental hygiene appointments. Clue: it is not your free cleaning per year. Join dental hygiene expert Aurelia Bryne RDH in explaining a critical aspect of your oral health, the health of the gum tissue around your teeth.