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What does a Dental Hygienist do?

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Answered February 22 2021
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Dental Hygienists work directly with Dentists to ensure that patients' oral health is maintained. They have many different roles and responsibilities; however, they tend to focus on the patient's overall oral hygiene and minor oral conditions. Larger issues are treated by Dentists or specialists such as an Orthodontist.   
Before seeing any clients, Dental Hygienists are responsible for reviewing their dental history and sharing the information with any other professionals involved. This step is necessary to avoid any medical emergencies and assess any other health risks present, such as allergies or prescription medication. Once the Dental Hygienist has evaluated the patient's history, they are responsible for oral screenings to observe visible tooth decay, cavities, or other diseases. Dental Hygienists also take dental X-rays to get a closer look at what is happening beneath the mouth's surface to prevent more severe issues from occurring.  
Dental Hygienists help prepare the patient ahead of their visit with the Dentist, who will carry out more advanced tasks such as filling a cavity or a root canal. Dental Hygienists can also assist the Dentist while they perform their more intricate tasks.   
Inevitably Dental Hygienists work very closely with their clients. Besides the physical roles that they have, they also aim to teach good oral hygiene and practices to their patients. 

Roles & Responsibilities for a Dental Hygienists 
  • Administering dental cleaning procedures, hygienic treatments, and performing minor repairs to the dental structure 
  • Cleaning teeth, stains, cavities, and gums using specialized tools (e.g., water and air pressure guns, specialized drills, and chisels)  
  • Removing food residues, cement excess, and plaque from the patient’s teeth 
  • Examining teeth and gums to look for signs of tooth decay and gum disease, as well as nodules and unusual swellings in the patient’s oral cavity 
  • Documenting and reporting the existence of any disease to the Dentist 
  • Applying fluoride and other chemicals used to seal and prevent cavities and tooth decay 
  • Administering local anesthesia to patients when needed, provided they possess the necessary certification to do so 
  • Making plaster cast impressions of dental structures for further studies 
  • Keeping track of patients’ histories 
  • Making observations on a patient’s chart regarding the current status of their oral health and hygiene  
  • Documenting and storing patient files for later recall 
  • Maintaining workspaces, equipment, and keeping tools in pristine condition 
  • Sterilizing dental equipment and tools 
  • Sharpening blades and chisels 
  • Conducting educational conferences and seminars in community centers and schools focused on dental and oral hygiene 
  • Explaining the importance of dental and oral hygiene and showing the consequences of poor hygienic habits 
  • Providing audiences with leaflets and other printed materials explaining good hygienic habits