What Does a Dental Hygienist Do Exactly?

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When it comes to maintaining oral health, dental hygiene plays a crucial role. Dental hygienists, with their expertise and knowledge, are an integral part of the dental care team. In this article, we will dive into the responsibilities and daily tasks of dental hygienists, shedding light on what they do exactly to ensure our smiles stay healthy and bright.

What is a Dental Hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a dental professional who specializes in preventive oral care. They work closely with dentists to provide essential services that help patients maintain optimal oral health. To become a dental hygienist, individuals must complete a rigorous educational program and obtain the necessary certifications. Their role extends beyond teeth cleaning, encompassing various responsibilities that contribute to overall dental well-being.

Daily Tasks of a Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists perform a range of tasks on a daily basis to ensure optimal oral health for their patients. They conduct thorough oral examinations to assess the condition of teeth and gums. By carefully examining the mouth, they can identify any signs of oral diseases or abnormalities that may require further attention. Through their expertise, dental hygienists play a key role in early detection and prevention of dental issues.

To maintain oral hygiene, dental hygienists perform dental cleanings, removing plaque and tartar buildup that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. They utilize specialized tools and techniques to ensure a thorough cleaning, leaving patients with a fresh, clean feeling. Additionally, dental hygienists polish teeth, providing a smooth surface that helps prevent future plaque buildup.

Additional Responsibilities of Dental Hygienists

Aside from daily tasks, dental hygienists also take on additional responsibilities to promote oral health and educate patients. They play a crucial role in educating individuals about proper oral hygiene practices, such as correct brushing and flossing techniques. By imparting this knowledge, dental hygienists empower patients to take charge of their oral health and prevent future dental issues.

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Dental hygienists are trained to take and develop dental x-rays. These x-rays provide valuable insights into the condition of teeth, supporting dentists in diagnosing and treating dental problems. Furthermore, dental hygienists may apply fluoride treatments and dental sealants to protect teeth from decay and strengthen enamel.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Hygienists

What qualifications are required to become a dental hygienist?

To become a dental hygienist, individuals must complete an accredited dental hygiene program. These programs typically require a high school diploma or equivalent for admission. After completing the program, aspiring dental hygienists must pass a licensing examination to become registered dental hygienists.

How long does it take to become a dental hygienist?

The duration of dental hygiene programs varies, but most programs take around two years to complete. However, some programs may offer accelerated options, allowing students to finish in as little as 18 months. After completing the program, individuals must pass the licensing examination to practice as dental hygienists.

Are dental hygienists allowed to perform dental surgeries?

Dental hygienists are not typically authorized to perform dental surgeries. Their main focus is on preventive care and oral health maintenance. However, they may assist dentists during surgical procedures, ensuring a smooth and efficient operation.

What is the salary range for dental hygienists?

The salary range for dental hygienists can vary depending on factors such as experience, location, and work setting. On average, dental hygienists earn a competitive salary, with the median annual wage in the United States being around $76,220 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Dental hygienists are the unsung heroes of oral health, working diligently to keep our smiles bright and healthy. Their expertise and dedication extend far beyond teeth cleaning, encompassing various responsibilities that contribute to overall dental well-being. From conducting thorough oral examinations to educating patients on proper oral hygiene practices, dental hygienists play a vital role in preventing dental issues and promoting oral health. So, the next time you visit your dental hygienist, remember the essential work they do to keep your smile shining.

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