Regular, professional dental cleanings are essential if a person wants to maintain a healthy smile but it is usually a dental hygienist rather than the dentist himself who performs these routine cleanings. But although that is how they will spend much of their time routine dental cleanings are far from the only thing a dental hygienist does on a regular basis.
What else does a Dental Hygienist do?
Deep Cleaning – For most patients a routine cleaning every six months or so supplemented with a good at-home dental hygiene regimen is all they need to keep their smile white, bright and healthy. It is a different story for patients who suffer from periodontal (gum) disease. These patients need a “deeper cleaning” which often goes as far as scaling and root planning, which are advanced cleaning techniques. A dental hygienist is also trained to be able to perform these specialist cleanings.
Tooth Whitening – The demand for tooth whitening services has skyrocketed over the last decade as patients strive to get that “Hollywood Smile”. Although there are many at home tooth whitening products on the market today the best results are still generally achieved in the dentist’s chair – with the procedure being carried out by a trained dental hygienist.
Patient Education – Good dental health depends very much upon how an individual treats their teeth and gums between visits to the dentist’s chair. A dental hygienist is usually the person tasked with educating patients about many different aspects of dental care – from what are the foods and drinks that damage the teeth and should be avoided to the correct way to brush and floss.
X Rays – Dental x rays are a widely used diagnostic tool, assisting in almost every dental procedure and it is the dental hygienist who is trained to take these x rays.
What Schooling does A Dental Hygienist need?
Usually to become a dental hygienist a student must complete a minimum of 86 credit hours at the associate degree level and 122 credit hours at the bachelor’s degree level. There are an ever increasing number of colleges and vocational schools across the country offering these programs as the role of the dental hygienist is now seen as a great deal more than just a person who assists a dentist. Dental hygienists are now seen as an important party of the health system at large, so the demand (and the compensation) for their services continues to increase.