What Exactly Does My Dental Hygienist Do?

Wellspring Dental

When you imagine the typical dental visit, you likely picture the dentist and their sidekick to the left and right of the dental chair. That sidekick, officially recognized as your dental hygienist, truly makes up the soul of the practice– they help things run smoothly with compassion, while keeping things calm and collected. Hygienists are licensed oral health professionals who work hand in hand with the dentist to provide the best possible care. 

Aside from cleaning your teeth during an oral exam, dental hygienists aim to build relationships with patients, and play an important role in encouraging proper oral hygiene routines. Their goal is to set you up for success by providing the tips and techniques to maintain and improve your oral health– which has a direct impact on your overall health! 

What Does A Dental Hygienist Do? 

The dental hygienist’s first role after welcoming you to your appointment is to clear out all of the bacteria from your mouth. At this time they will be scanning your mouth for any areas of concern, ensuring you are on the right track to maintaining a healthy smile. A dental hygienist has the skillset to use various tools and techniques, including polishing devices to remove stains and x-ray machines to take images. 

As a quick snapshot, dental hygienists are skillfully prepared to… 

  • Evaluate your general oral health. 
  • Clean your teeth by removing tartar, plaque, and stains.
  • Perform dental screenings. 
  • Apply fluoride treatment or sealants to protect your smile.
  • Update patient records. 
  • Educate patients on oral hygiene practices and nutrition.
  • Administer local anesthetics and nitrous oxide upon further training. 
  • Demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. 

While dental hygienists play a core role in the office, they do not have the ability to diagnose or treat any problems associated with your teeth. Your hygienist is not able to conduct fillings, extractions or other procedures that require a dental degree.

However, they can assist the dentist with these procedures, and always play a crucial role as an additional set of hands. Essentially, the dentist and dental hygienist are a dynamic duo that ebb and flow – together, they create the synergy of a well-run dental practice! 

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