Why did you choose to become a hygienist?
I was lucky in that I knew I wanted to enter the field of dentistry from a very young age. I was 10 years old! After some work experience, I learnt more about the different dentistry fields and being a hygienist appealed to me the most. I have always had an altruistic personality and being able to apply this in a medical context using my specialised knowledge really suited me.
What do you like most about being a hygienist?
Firstly, helping people and then the relationships you build with the patients make it even more rewarding as time goes on. I love seeing the improvements that can be made from through treatment and patients taking my advice!
Describe a typical day at work.
I like to arrive with at least half an hour to spare to check my notes and prepare my surgery with all my equipment and trays for the day (I was a Brownie guide so the motto 'be prepared' is instilled in me!). Then I begin seeing my patients and taking notes with the template that I copied into each patient file this morning. I like to complete all notes before I call in the next patient to avoid confusion later. When the day is finished I tidy up and collect my personal clean instruments to be used another day.
What do you think is the biggest change that you’ve seen in your profession?
It has to be whitening. People are more interested in the health and colour of their teeth which in turn has led to increased hygienist visits which is good, but it can mean that the (patients’) focus is only on stain removal and whitening. It's my job to ensure that patients understand the importance of carrying out good oral hygiene practices to maintain not only the colour but the health of their mouths.
Name the top three most common services in your practice.
General maintenance hygienist appointment, advanced periodontal treatment hygienist appointment and teeth whitening.
What are the common misconceptions about dental hygiene?
That treatment is always painful. Truly, this is not the case and a good hygienist will do their best to avoid this, for example, avoiding getting water in sensitive areas or referring for local anaesthetic for root surface debridement when needed. I myself have a very gentle technique which ensures that patients are comfortable, and I am often complimented on this.
I also think that sometimes hygiene visits can be swept into a category of 'scaling and polishing' when it is so much more than that. In my appointments, I am performing oral cancer screening, performing TMJ checks, a full extra oral and infra oral examination, a basic periodontal examination (to assess the health of the gums), assessing the patients oral hygiene and giving instruction and demonstrating good practices, making a treatment plan and carrying it out, setting review dates. I'm also doing occasionally fluoride varnish applications and whitening. So, a hygiene appointment is so much more than just a 'scale and polish'.
What are the common mistakes in brushing and flossing?
Selecting too hard a toothbrush and then brushing too hard which often causes toothbrush abrasion to the gums and heightened sensitivity. Also, assuming that if the gums don't bleed when you brush they are healthy, which is false especially for smokers. Lastly, flossing only the front teeth because those are the ones easily reached. You need to clean all of your teeth.
What do you advise for oral hygiene to be effective?
Brush for two minutes ensuring all surfaces are covered and spit out your toothpaste, do not rinse. Use an interdental aid in all gaps at least once and day before brushing ideally at the end of the day. If you are using a mouthwash only use this for the time instructed, some medicated mouthwashes only require a 2-week interval.
What are your hobbies?
In my spare time I enjoy knitting items for my home, friends and family and for babies born within my community. I've been doing this for over 10 years now so I'm pretty quick! I enjoy going to the gym, Zumba classes, taking my daughter for a swim or to the beach. Taking walks when the weather is cool to my local park and beyond. I also like reading historical novels such as Philippa Gregory.
What’s the one thing a lot of people don’t know about you?
Secretly I'm very crafty when I put my mind to it! This year for Christmas I made gift hampers for all my family these including homemade sugar scrubs, lotions, lip balms, shaving cream, fruit infused drinks, jam, dried fruit tea bags, homemade gingerbread men and chocolate brownies. These were all homemade from scratch and well worth it, I love the personal touch. It's great mixing all the ingredients together and seeing how it turns out, reminds me of science lessons at school. At home we also make biscuits, cakes, tray bakes, healthy cereal bars and muffins and my daughter Viola is my little helper.
How can patients book an appointment with you?
Patients can call 04-3949433 or o4 358 7788 to book an appointment.