What our hygienists offer in oral hygiene maintenance

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. After a meal or snack, the bacteria in plaque release acids that attack tooth enamel. Repeated attacks can cause the enamel to weaken, eventually causing tooth decay. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth (flossing) can eventually harden into tartar. Plaque produces bi-products that irritate the gums, making them red, tender or bleed easily. After a while, gums may pull away from the teeth. Pockets form around the teeth and fill with more bacteria and possibly pus in more advanced stages. If the gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth can be destroyed. One way to prevent tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease is by maintaining good oral hygiene habits and eating a balanced diet and limiting the number of between-meal snacks. If you need a snack, choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, nuts or a piece of fruit.

Do you have red, puffy bleeding gums?

If gum disease is not treated, the tissues holding the teeth in place are destroyed and the teeth are eventually lost. The cause of periodontitis and diseases surrounding an implant site are due to bacterial plaque in a susceptible patient. Therefore the aim of periodontal maintenance is to reduce the amount of plaque to minimize any further risk in disease activity. We therefore essentially strive to minimize the recurrence and progression of gum disease. Seeing patients on a regular basis allows us to increase the likelihood of locating and treating other disease or conditions found within the oral cavity.

We believe it is important to implement a well-planned long-term maintenance regime to achieve our goals. It is clear that without a stringent regime which includes re-evaluation of plaque control, re-enforcement of oral hygiene instructions and clinical re-evaluations, the benefits of treatment are lost. We also believe a vital factor in the long-term maintenance of the periodontium and dental implants is patient compliance that assists us in the on-going battle of preventing premature tooth loss and disease as well as the occurrence and re-occurrence of oral diseases.

As registered periodontal hygienists, we specialize in preventative oral health typically focusing on techniques in daily oral hygiene.

Do you floss routinely?

Periodontitis may present itself in numerous forms, all of which involve the loss of the supporting bone around the teeth and the periodontal ligaments. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that requires a lifelong maintenance regime. After the initial phase of periodontal management which may include surgical or non-surgical treatment. A proper maintenance regime is pivotal for the long term success of the gums and bone. If the initial treatment is not followed by a strict maintenance programme the results will prove to be ineffective in the long term. Within this maintenance programme we stress the importance of not only brushing correctly but also using other interdental aids such as Interproximal brushes and flossing frequently. Plaque that is located in between teeth, if not removed, can give off a bad smell, which is one of the number one reasons of having bad breath. Also if plaque is left around teeth, it becomes hard and forms tartar. Tartar can causes gum disease. Important to note that people with heart disease must be very vigilant with their oral hygiene habits as the mouth is an entry portal for harmful bacteria that, if not eliminated, can eventually reach the heart if it enters the blood stream.

Have you got dental implants?

The success rate of dental implants is largely dependent to their stability in the surrounding bone. Like natural teeth, dental implants are susceptible to bacterial plaque which may lead to inflammation of the soft tissue around the implant and cause bone loss. To ensure this it is essential that the implants are flossed and brushed as well. Patients that have dental implants with a history of previous gum problems are at a greater risk for implant failure. Therefore patients with dental implants are required to see the hygienists routinely to rule out signs and symptoms of disease.

How often do you see a dental hygienist?

Patients that are susceptible to gum disease should have a recall interval of no more than 3 months. In many cases a 3 monthly visits are appropriate for the majority of patients, although periodontal maintenance needs to be suited to every individual patient.

Do you want a whiter, brighter smile? / Have you heard of teeth whitening?

There are many factors that affect the whiteness of your teeth which may include your daily dietary habits such as drinking tea, coffee and wine. Tooth whitening is a conservative, affordable and effective treatment option to improve the colour of the teeth in conjunction boosting your self-confidence. The whitening system we use is called Opalescence Boost. Opalescence Boost is chemically activated formula that allows your dental hygienist to whiten your teeth without the use of an ultraviolet light or laser.

Do you often have short, sharp pain in response to cold, heat and pressure?

Sensitive teeth are generally caused by gum recession exposing root surfaces. Gum recession may be caused by many factors such as brushing too vigorously, eating acidic food and drinks that wear away the enamel, age and periodontal disease. Topically applied fluoride is useful not only to prevent cavities but also may be useful to prevent hypersensitivity of the dentine of periodontally involved teeth. Topical fluorides applied to exposed root surfaces after periodontal therapy may be beneficial to clinician and patient as well.

Common procedures provided include:

Non-surgical procedures such as scaling and root planning, administration of desensitising agents and fluorides, tooth whitening, 2D and 3D radiographic images and most importantly providing proper instructions to patients regarding oral hygiene through motivation and rigid maintenance regimes tailored to every individual’s needs.


Meet our hygienists


Theresa Stemmet Dipl.OH (UWC) is a HPCSA registered oral hygienist with extended functions. She graduated from the University of the Western Cape in 2004. She is currently employed as a senior oral hygienist at Dr Van Heerdens practice in Claremont.

During the past nine years she has been exposed to various aspects of oral health and dental procedures such as care and maintenance of periodontal and implant patients as well as restorative work such as One surface restorations and Healozone treatment. Her experience extends to making grinding plates and protective mouth guards. She is also trained in various tooth whitening procedures.

Theresa is passionate about her field of expertise and embraces further learning and continous self development through CPD progammes, thus providing her patients with the best possible treatment and care.


Carina Frey BOH (UWC) is an HPCSA Registered Dental Hygienist. She graduated from the University of the Western Cape with a Bachelor of Oral Hygiene (BOH) in 2011.

During her years at university she received the following awards:
•  Phelophepa Community Health train
•  Academic excellence award (2009)
•  Certificate of Merit – Top achievement (2009 & 2010)

Carina joined Dr van Heerden’s oral hygiene department in 2010. She is also trained in the Opalescence whitening system.

She continues to expand her skills and knowledge through yearly CPD courses in order to provide patientswith new information and the best quality care available.

For any queries regarding oral hygiene or to book a specialist consultation, please contact the surgery.