At your dental appointment you may have noticed that before seeing your dentist, you spend time with a dental hygienist. A dental hygienist works alongside your dentist and together play a complementary role in providing exceptional oral health care service. Depending on the type of dental appointment you have, you may spend up to 2/3rds of your appointment with a dental hygienist.
As their role is very important at your dental visit, have you ever wondered what their responsibilities are and how they are important to your oral health?
What Is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional who is registered with a dental association or regulatory body within their country of practice.
In Canada, dental hygienists must successfully complete a dental hygiene diploma or bachelor program. The curriculum focuses on oral and clinical science, with an emphasis on health promotion and preventive, motivational and communication strategies. To be able to practice, dental hygienists must be registered or licensed by the dental hygiene regulatory authority in their provincial or territorial jurisdiction.
Once dental hygienists are in practice, they must also meet ongoing quality assurance requirements. In most provinces or territories, dental hygienists are required to take a certain number of continuing education courses every year.
Responsibilities of a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists responsibilities focus and specialize in the prevention, treatment, education of oral diseases and disorders of the teeth and mouth. They are professionals who have a specific scope of clinical procedures they provide to their patients and work with dentists as well as with dental assistants.
While each province has its own specific regulations regarding the responsibilities of a dental hygienist and services may vary from province to province, the following generally are responsibilities of a dental hygienist.
- Takes care of screening procedures and examines a patient’s gums and teeth to look for disease, abnormality and accesses oral health conditions. They may also review oral health history, dental charts, take diagnostic x-rays.
- Remove stains, tartar and plaque from the surfaces of teeth, provide deep cleaning and polishing of teeth.
- Administer preventative materials such as fluoride treatment and sealants.
- Assist the dentist with cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening.
- Perform non-surgical periodontal therapy such as scaling and root planing.
- Make impressions of patients’ teeth for study casts.
- Perform or assist with the dentist fillings other restoration services.
- Educate patients on establishing good oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health and preventative oral care.
A dental hygienist will not diagnose oral disease. They prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests so that the dentist can later make an evaluation.
A dental hygienist performs clinical services and they are also there to make sure you are comfortable during your appointment and to explain what is going on. They will also do their best to help educate you to understand any further action that need to be taken at home to achieve healthy oral hygiene.
By following the instructions provided by your dental hygienist and any advice given from your doctor you will be taking proactive measures that may help minimize potential oral health problems.
If you have any questions for your North Burnaby Dental Group dental hygienist, do not hesitate to ask them at your next dental appointment.