Dental care is vital in order to keep and maintain healthy teeth and gums. A dentist and dental hygienist work together to assist you with your oral hygiene requirements.
Part of good hygiene includes regular visits to your dentist. This is where you may see both a dentist and dental hygienist during your visit.
What Does A Dental Hygienist Do?
A dental hygienist has many specific tasks in a dental office. Once a thorough examination of your teeth has been completed, the dental hygienist goes to work on removing tartar, stains, and plaque from your teeth and will help you to protect them with the application of fluorides and sealants, as well as some more complex tasks.
The dental hygienist will take and develop dental x-rays for future reference, record and document any and all care and treatment plans put in place for your oral health. They are also responsible for helping you develop proper oral care habits by teaching you how to take care of your teeth. This may include showing you proper brushing and flossing techniques.
They will work hand-in-hand with the dentist, so depending on the availability and setup of the dental practice, sometimes the dentist will perform this work, and at other times the hygienist will do it, or they may work together. However, the dentist is normally responsible for the more complex work undertaken in the practice.
Is A Dental Hygienist A Dentist?
The simple answer is no. While dentistry and dental hygiene focus on the same thing – oral care; taking care of your teeth and gums– both professions are very different. In addition to special post-secondary school training and licensing in order to begin their careers, dentists and dental hygienists fill very different roles in a dental clinic.
Dental hygienists typically work under the supervision of a dentist, earn less than a dentist and have fewer authorisations granted by the same licensing board as dentists. The training is different than that of a dentist; however, with both attending to your oral health needs at a dental visit means you will receive the best possible care available.
How Do Hygienists Clean Teeth?
Following the oral exam by your dentist or hygienist, the dental hygienist will perform a cleaning. If this is not just for your regular 6-monthly check-up, it may be to prepare your teeth for a follow-up procedure which will be the responsibility of your dentist. Your dentist will repair and/or replace your teeth as needed. This may include fillings, crowns, bridges, full and partial dentures and related appliances.
The cleaning and polishing performed by a dental hygienist can be done with several different tools. They include hand and power tools specific to each task required. Stains are removed with a device that sprays baking soda, air, and water in a combined stream. Teeth are polished using an automatic powered mini toothbrush-like device.
Cleaning of teeth includes scaling and scraping which can be done with several different hand tools. A vibrating tool is used to break up plaque and tartar on the tooth surface. Often times devices called an Ultrasonic cleaners may also be used to assist with the cleaning process.
Once your teeth have been completely cleaned and polished your next visit will be discussed and scheduled.
Dental hygienists play an important role in your overall oral health. They work closely with your dentist and are responsible for examining and cleaning your teeth, as well as undertaking some more complex tasks.
Their specialised experience in this field ensures that your oral health is in the best hands, so make sure that you book in for your regular check-up by contacting our office.