Dental Hygiene – The Role of Dental Hygienists
A dental hygienist, also called dental technician or oral surgeon, is an accredited dental medical professional, duly registered with a relevant dental body or regulatory board in their particular state of practice. This is compulsory for professionals working in dental offices. They assist the dentist in carrying out dental treatments in terms of diagnosis, planning, treatment and follow-up care. It involves a wide range of work including prevention and treatment of dental decay, plaque formation, periodontal disease, jaw disorders, sores, extractions and injuries to the gum, face and mouth. It is also a specialized form of medicine treating pregnant women, children, HIV patients and physically challenged individuals.
The dentist is concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of dental disorders. In addition, the dentist provides treatment to disorders of the gum and the face. On the other hand, the dental hygienist assists the dentist by performing routine preventative procedures, arranging the supplies on dental trays, sterilizing and preparing the tools and implements for dental treatments, taking x rays of teeth, charting the patient’s progress, making arrangements for emergency dental care and taking permanent dental impressions. In some states, both the dentists and the hygienists are covered by government health insurance plans.
Most of the work of the dental hygienist involves preventative care. An exam will help them to identify early stages of gum disease. In order to prevent this disease, the hygienists must be aware of oral health education, proper brushing techniques, periodontal disease symptoms and treatment options. Proper dental hygiene requires daily brushing at least two minutes and cleaning the teeth after meals. Flossing and tongue scraping are other recommended methods of preventing gum disease. Regular visits to the dentist are important to detect any changes in the gum and mouth and take necessary action.
The work of the hygienists is further characterized by the tasks of providing emergency care, such as removing sutures in the fingers and toes to prevent permanent nerve damage and injuries, dressing wounds, checking the level of oxygen in the blood, conducting sedation and general anesthetic in the operating room, preparing the body for surgery and many more. Some of the patients require direct attention of the dentists, while some of the patients require assistance of other healthcare professionals, such as dental nurses. The dental nurses are trained to provide all the required assistance to the patients, without requiring additional training. The dental nurses play an important role in providing support and relief to patients with minor dental injuries.
To pursue a career as a hygienists, you can either enter any one of the accredited programs available at the university or college, or you can pursue an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene (ASD) from a recognized university or college. Once you have earned your Bachelor’s degree in this field, you may opt for a Master’s or Doctoral program. If you wish to pursue a clinical practice, you will need a doctoral degree. As mentioned earlier, dental hygienists are expected to have a combination of knowledge and skills in providing basic, routine preventative dental care to patients; while the dentists are expected to be experts in severe and complex cases.
In addition to these core clinical duties, the hygienists are also expected to perform preventive duties, such as educating the patients about oral hygiene and offering tooth-testing and patient counseling services. They also play an important role in offering referral services to patients, such as educating them on tooth decay prevention, and providing a patient counseling service. A portion of the clinical work requires that the hygienists collaborate with other professionals, such as dental technicians and dentist assistants. There are many cooperative programs, which allow for an exchange of services between the various participating practitioners. For example, a dentist might offer preventive services to patients who have been referred by a hygienists; and vice versa.
The main task of the hygienists is to prevent tooth decay and plaque from affecting the teeth and their root. This is accomplished through a series of steps, including educating the patients on proper dental health care, offering education on tooth decay and plaque formation, and offering prevention screenings and toothbrush refill services. Once the patients begin to receive dental health care from a practicing dentist, they are more likely to retain the services of that practicing dentist. One study showed that patients who had dental Hygienists at their dental office were twice as likely to have professional cleanings done on their teeth than patients who saw a dentist only once. This study further indicated that the more frequently a patient visited his or her dentist, the more likely that the patient was to retain the services of that dentist.
In order to become one of the dental hygienists, it is necessary to participate in a dental hygiene program from an accredited program. The program should contain a course in basic or medical sciences as well as courses in anatomy, nutrition, pharmacology, and microbiology. There should also be a large part on public speaking, as these are two important aspects of becoming a professional hygienists. The programs offered by colleges and universities can sometimes be difficult to find and often cost thousands of dollars. However, many programs are offered in collaboration with local hospitals and clinics, and the cost of this dental hygiene program is far outweighed by the benefits that accrue from having a beautiful, healthy, and confident smile.