Leo Yang originally wanted to be a microbiologist, but after graduating with his Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) from the University of Otago he had a change of heart. A friend suggested he check out AUT’s Bachelor of Oral Health – and after the first lecture, he was hooked! We chat to Leo about why he loves being an Oral Health Therapist – and why it is so important to pay him regular visits.
Leo, tell us a bit about what you do at Lumino Auckland Central.
I’m an oral health therapist, which is basically a dental nurse and a dental hygienist rolled into one. I’m qualified to provide dental hygiene services to all Lumino patients and to provide dental treatments such as fillings and baby teeth extractions to adolescents under the age of 18. Oral health check ups for children from Year 9 to 13 are free at Lumino!
What do you love most about your job?
Transforming mouths! I love seeing patients walking out with big smiles on their faces and newfound confidence.
Can you talk us through what services dental hygienists provide?
We take care of patients’ dental hygiene maintenance (that’s a scale and polish) as well as educating them about oral health. It’s our job to help patients achieve optimum oral health and stabilise any periodontal (gingival) conditions so that the dentists can achieve better results. For example, if patients have bleeding gums, it’s harder for dentists to achieve good restorations (fillings), because the materials we use for fillings are susceptible to water and blood contaminants.
How often should people see a dental hygienist?
It varies, depending on each patient’s periodontal health. We recommend most people come every six months, but people with chronic gum disease should come every three or four months. The Lumino Dental Plan is an excellent option because it includes two hygiene visits and one dentist check-up every year.
Why is good dental hygiene so important?
Our periodontal tissues are like soil to trees – just as good soil ensures trees thrive, good periodontal health ensures our teeth stay in tip-top condition. Not taking good care of your dental hygiene can lead to all sorts of problems such as cavities and gum disease, which can impair your ability to eat and speak properly, and cause pain and halitosis (bad breath).
What many people may not realise is that poor dental health can also have a profoundly negative impact on areas outside of the mouth. Gum disease has been linked to everything from heart disease, clogged arteries and strokes to arthritis and even premature births.
What happens if people don’t visit a hygienist regularly?
They could suffer from inflammation, bleeding gums and chronic gum disease (periodontitis). If this happens, we will usually have to refer them to a gum specialist called a periodontist. This treatment is not covered under insurance and can be very costly!
What are your top tips for a healthy mouth?
See a hygienist regularly – and use an electric toothbrush!
Also if you’re considering teeth whitening, visit your dentist or hygienist. Damage to your teeth and gums can occur if dental whitening is not carried out by someone with the correct knowledge and training.