What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Dental hygienists help people take better care of themselves with proper oral health. Like many healthcare practices, dentistry aims to prevent diseases and harm—oral infections, tooth decay, gum disease—treat ailments, and maintain one’s health. Dental hygienists play important roles in society.

Here is a deeper look into the daily responsibilities of a dental hygienist and what to consider when looking into this career.

Preventative Dental Care

Dental hygienists operate on a “better safe than sorry” mindset. Preventive care minimizes future risks of many health concerns, from bacteria buildup and infections to decay. It’s a type of wellness that targets the early stages of domino effect issues—before they grow out of hand—as well as preparation and defense building. 

Dental hygienists conduct regular dental exams, from routine x-rays to general checkups. Knowing the current state of one’s oral health allows hygienists to track, mitigate, and prevent any issues, making dental examination a top responsibility.

Other preventative duties include applying sealant and fluorides to protect the teeth, making treatment plans and diagnostics, and root planing to mitigate periodontitis.

Oral Health Maintenance

In congruence with preventative care is oral health maintenance. Proper hygiene maintains the quality and health of one’s teeth, gums, and mouth. It prevents bacteria buildup, reducing any future health risks. On top of maximizing oral health, dental maintenance also keeps teeth looking good.

One of the main responsibilities of a dental hygienist is to provide regular dental cleaning. This involves removing tartar, stains, and plaque; expert flossing; and high-powered brushing.

Dental hygienists use many tools on a regular basis to perform oral maintenance, requiring skill and attention to safety procedures. Typical hygiene maintenance equipment includes:

  • Dental scalers
  • Lasers
  • Air-polishing devices
  • High-power water sprays
  • Saliva ejectors
  • Dental floss

Health and Safety Requirements

Any healthcare setting comes with risks, from infectious diseases to handling hazardous waste. Certain health and safety standards protect employees and patients. The occupational safety and health act (OSHA) and the American dental association (ADA) enforce specific health and safety procedures and require dental hygienists to comply or face violation penalties.

Implementing best practices and staying up to date on the latest important OSHA updates and changes are important responsibilities of a dental hygienist.

Dental Hygiene Education

The work of a dental hygienist goes beyond the dentist’s office. It also sets people up with the right tools to take care of their teeth and gums at home. There are many best practices for oral hygiene and care, from dietary recommendations to diligent flossing and brushing. Dental hygienists educate patients on those standards, providing recommendations for products and tools and emphasizing the importance of at-home dental care.

A dental hygienist’s responsibilities involve preventative dental care, oral health maintenance, the use of technical equipment, implementation of health and safety practices, and education. Dental hygienists play important roles in society. Oral health factors into many different aspects of life, from daily comforts and cosmetic beauty to other forms of health. If you plan on entering the dental industry, keep these responsibilities in mind to guarantee success.

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  • February 1, 2023