Everyone’s done it.
You sit in the chair at the dentist’s office, reclined, lights in your eyes… you get the picture.
I found myself there just yesterday and thought I’d use my time more effectively, so instead of just sitting there, I obtained some answers to questions you’ve probably thought of asking but never have.
Dental Hygienist instructing child

Thursday afternoon I had a visit to my dentist’s office. It’s a great place to go (I’ve been lucky to have not ever had a cavity) and instead of mumbling incoherently as is the norm, I seized precious moments to ask my dental hygienist several questions that have always been up in the air for me. The first question was about the suction tube that is used to get rid of saliva and any blood in your mouth during the delicate cleaning process.

Did you know that you aren’t supposed to close your mouth over the suction tube to speed up the gathering of mouth fluids? Apparently, you’re intended to sit still and let your dental hygienist navigate the suction tube.

Those tubes are only cleaned once per day and are used on everyone else who sits in the chair to get a cleaning. Although the tube is only cleaned once per day, you can rest assured that the nozzles at the end are disposable and a new nozzle is applied to the hose for each patient. So are other little end pieces, thank goodness. Also, for your peace of mind, the metal instruments are thoroughly washed and sterilized between visits.

Back to the tube.
Some hygienists encourage you to or condone helping the suctioning along, but from what I heard, they shouldn’t. It may seem more convenient to you to get the saliva out faster, but it could be more detrimental than savvy. The scoop is that even though the fluids are being sucked out, there is the potential that some of the bacteria from previous visitors (or your own mouth) may come back up and make you sick. It depends on the kind of apparatus they are using (whether or not there is a slit or hole in it) as to if this would occur.

Makes you want to book your appointment for the crack of dawn, doesn’t it?!
Another question I had was do dental hygienists prefer their clients to have their eyes open or shut during the cleaning process. According to my hygienist, Melissa, she said that it was really up to each individual patient as to what they did while in the chair. She had no preference herself.

If you’re grossed out, the end is near – just bear with me for one more tip.
Flossing is very important. We all know that this is the case, but putting that into action is sometimes an annoying or painful experience. How many of you have been reprimanded because you don’t floss enough? Don’t be shy, ’cause I know I have!

If you don’t floss, consider that over time your gums will deteriorate and you may get all kinds of infections, infections that could be avoided by removing the tartar, plaque and bacteria hiding in there. I think I heard somewhere that flossing would also help prevent heart disease. There’s an excellent reason right there.

It’s of particular importance that pregnant women floss. Although your gums will be more tender, it is of vital import to floss daily for you and your baby. I learned a lot yesterday at my dentist’s office and knew that what I found out would benefit somebody if not just myself which is why I decided to share this obscure yet significant information. I hope Melissa didn’t feel like she was being interrogated! This is the stuff you don’t hear or talk about. That whole tube thing was a mystery to me until I asked.

As I’m writing for an audience of people who use their voice to make a living, I thought this topic, although a bit squeamish, would prove useful. For more reasons why you should take care, read David Houston’s article about Cleaning the Instrument.
Proper oral hygiene is a priority for you as your livelihood depends on it, and it goes without saying, your health as well.
Brush, floss and prosper!
Best wishes,

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©©©iStockphoto.com/Carmen Martínez


  1. If you live in a small town like I do, you’re probably used to sitting in the dentist chair and listening to yourself through their P.A. system, tuned to a radio station you work for.

  2. FYI: although your dentist only cleans theirs once a day, it is according to OSHA standards to be cleaned and flushed after every single patient! maybe you need to find a new dentist that has your best interest at heart!


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