21 Jun The Role of Dental Hygienists in Oral Health
Friendly-faced and welcoming, the dental hygienist is often the first person you’ll meet on your journey to a healthier smile. They play a crucial role in maintaining oral health and acting as the bridge between the dentist and the patient.
What is a Dental Hygienist?
Dental hygienists are licensed professionals. In Texas, individuals must fulfill requirements set by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE), including:
- Education: Graduating from an accredited dental hygiene program.
- National Board Examination: Passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination.
- Clinical Examination: Completing required clinical hands-on examinations.
- Jurisprudence Assessment: Scoring on dental practice assessment tests.
- CPR Certification: Achieving certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
These stringent criteria also require license renewal every two years, which includes continuing education and CPR renewal. Becoming a dental hygienist takes hard work, focus, and intention.
The Roles of a Dental Hygienist
One primary responsibility of dental hygienists is to educate patients about oral health practices. Just ask our own hygienists Evette and Arpi. “Prevention is key” they both agree. From proper brushing and flossing techniques to regular in-office visits, their focus is empowering patients for healthier oral habits and prevention.
Comprehensive Dental Assessments
Dental hygienists clean and examine patients’ teeth and gums. X-rays are taken to provide the dentist with a thorough evaluation of the health of your teeth beneath the gumline. Next, the hygienist cleans teeth to remove cavity-causing plaque, tartar, and stains from teeth. They also play a crucial role in screening for oral diseases, including oral cancer. Through examinations, dental hygienists identify issues like lesions, swelling, or abnormal tissue growth, aiding in early detection and potentially saving lives.
Administering Preventive Treatments
Prevention is key when it comes to oral health, and dental hygienists are at the forefront of providing preventive treatments. They often apply fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel and protect against decay. Dental hygienists are also skilled in applying dental sealants, a protective coating that shields vulnerable areas of the teeth from bacteria and plaque buildup. These measures protect teeth and help prevent the need for extensive treatments in the future.
Assisting in Dental Procedures
After x-rays and cleaning, the dental hygienist communicates any concerns to the dentist and provides support during dental procedures like fillings, extractions, and root canals. They play a key role in preparing the treatment area, sterilizing instruments, taking impressions, and offering post-operative care instructions. By assisting in these tasks, dental hygienists enable the dentist to concentrate on the essential elements of the procedure, thereby enhancing the overall quality of patient care.
Providing Patient-centered Care
Dental hygienists excel in delivering patient-centered care, creating a comfortable and safe environment to alleviate anxiety. By developing a rapport with patients, dental hygienists foster a sense of trust and establish long-term relationships. They also educate patients on the importance of oral health maintenance, encouraging better self-care practices.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”