Dental Hygienists – Roles And Responsibilities

Anyone looking for a job should consider becoming a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists are in high demand. As the population ages and technology advances, these services will continue to be needed. A dental hygienist supports a dentist and has many roles and responsibilities.

Review Health and Dental History

What does a dental hygienist do? Before a dentist works on a patient, a hygienist conducts a medical history. The medical history informs the dentist of the patient's previous medical conditions and dental work. The information will help the dentist assess oral health risks and prevent medical emergencies. This history may also provide the patient with a more personalized dental treatment plan.

Screen Patients

Another duty of a dental hygienist is to screen patients for cavities or oral diseases before the dentist performs any work. It only takes a few minutes to complete, but it is essential. Checking the head, mouth, and neck can help a hygienist find problems before they are a challenge to control.

Take Dental X-Rays

Dental X-rays are essential to good preventive care. Hygienists take X-rays to identify problems in their early stages, so dentists can treat them before they develop into more complex situations. Dental x-rays can also help detect cavities, oral infections, and some tumors. Dentists take bitewing X-rays yearly and do a panoramic X-ray every 3-5 years. X-rays are a standard part of working as a hygienist.

Perform Dental Cleanings

The most commonly known dental hygienist task is performing a dental cleaning. Hygienists use tools to remove stains, tartar, and plaque from teeth. Eliminating stains, tartar, and plaque from teeth prevents cavities and tooth loss. It also gives a bright, beautiful smile and helps maintain overall health.

Preventive Care

female dentist examines female patient with bad breathAfter cleaning, a hygienist may educate a patient in preventive oral care. Flouride treatments and sealant application can also help prevent further problems from developing. Flouride strengthens teeth and keeps the acid from eroding. Fluoride can prevent tooth decay and even reverse cavities that have already begun to form.

Sealants can be helpful for children in controlling decay in molars. A sealant is a material that covers the surfaces of the back teeth and protects them from getting cavities.

Educating Patients

A large part of a dental hygienist's job is to educate patients. They teach patients how to best care for their mouth by correctly flossing and brushing their teeth. They may help patients choose the correct toothbrush or oral care device. Sometimes, a hygienist may counsel patients about plaque control and develop at-home oral hygiene programs. In addition, they can administer smoking cessation programs affecting oral health and overall health.

Documentation of Treatment

Hygienists are a bridge between a patient and a dentist. After cleaning a patient's teeth, a hygienist reports their findings to the dentist. In addition, they sometimes prepare patients for the dentist by explaining what they have noticed and suggesting what the dentist might recommend.

Dental hygienists document patients' care and treatment. In addition, they maintain dental records by keeping track of everything done and discussed during a dental visit.

Environments for Work

Dental hygienists work in many settings like private dental offices, public health clinics, hospitals, schools, correctional institutions, nursing homes, or managed care organizations. They may also work as educators, administrators, and researchers.

Education Required

Suppose someone wants to work as a dental hygienist. In that case, they must graduate from a college or university's accredited dental hygiene education program. Many hygienists earn an Associate's Degree to get the skills they need. Some hygienists, however, earn a Bachelor of Science degree in dental hygiene from a four-year university or college program. In addition, they must pass a national board examination and a clinical examination before receiving a license to practice. A Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) is a licensed oral health professional.

Essential Qualities of a Dental Hygienist

In addition to having the skills necessary for practical work, dental hygienists should have excellent people skills. They should be able to calm patients who are anxious and be good listeners to patients with concerns. Dental hygienists need to be able to help patients communicate concerns to the dentist. A proper dental hygienist should be skilled at working with the target age of the practice, whether children or elderly, to help put them at ease during dental visits.

Dental hygienists are a valuable part of the dental team. Their roles and responsibilities help a dental office to run smoothly and effectively.

Brought To You By: Simply Smiles – Family & Implant Dentistry

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