A Dental Hygienist is a specially trained professional that has a giant scope of job functions of
which makes them a Dental Hygienist. Usually, the first person to come into the room and take a
look at your teeth when you come to the dentist is your Dental Hygienist. The main objective of
their job is to provide services to keep your teeth healthy and prevent more complicated issues
that a dentist would need to handle. The duties they perform the most frequently are taking x-
rays, developing x-rays, dental cleanings, fluoride applications, treating gum irritations, and
providing education and instruction to patients on how to properly care for their smile.
Think of a dental hygienist as the nurse that works under your doctor; a Dental Hygienist works
under a certified Dentist. More involved duties that they provide would be removing tartar and
stuck food particles, cleaning plaque as well as cement excess off the surface of the teeth. All
cleanings and hygiene procedures are done using a multitude of specific tools designed to do their
own specialized functions. Dental Hygienists also thoroughly examine the gums and the teeth for
indications of dental issues such as gum disease, infection, tooth decay, gum swelling, and any
abnormal lumps or nodules in the mouth. Hygienists also have to report this information in the
patients dental history chart for the dentist to reference. Learn more here about how to choose the right dentist.
Dental Hygienists are also the professionals that will usually administer any types of anesthesia
(besides general) to help the patient feel comfortable throughout any procedures that warrant it.
Application of fluoride and any other chemicals to the teeth or gums to treat and or prevent minor
problems also falls under the Dental Hygienists’ job duties. When dental devices and structures are
required, Dental Hygienists will make cast impressions of patients’ teeth and mouth shapes from
the plaster in order for the device or structure to be fitted for a patient’s teeth. Other duties that
Hygienists perform include the handling of the equipment used in the dental office and sterilizing
them according to protocol.
A large part of a Dental Hygienists function is to educate and inform patients in a compassionate
way about the health of their teeth. They have to have soft skills with people in order to help the
patient understand what they need to do to care for their teeth and the correct way to do these
things. When there are dental issues that require further treatment by the dentist, the Hygienist
will be the person who can explain every step of the procedure and customize the treatment plan
to meet the patients needs. They are there to answer any questions and fully explain oral
procedures, interventions, disease prevention, oral treatments, hygiene, and daily care.
In addition to all of the aforementioned independent duties they perform, a Dental Hygienist is also
an assistant to the dentist during more advanced, complicated procedures. They assist with
preparing the equipment and tools for the dentist, relaying information from a patients oral
assessment that is readily needed during the procedures, as well as ensuring the patient is
comfortable and understands what is going on. While independent duties are more common for
Dental Hygienists because of their extensive training and technical skills which do not always
require the direct supervision of a dentist, it is not out of the ordinary for hygienists to be working
alongside with the dentist during some advanced procedures when extra assistance is necessary.