A dental hygienist is a highly trained and licensed oral health professional who provides you with educational, clinical, and therapeutic services to enhance your overall health. Their training includes courses in:

  • Chemistry
  • Head and neck anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry

  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology

In addition to these courses, hygienists take classes on advanced dental sciences, dental hygiene, and complete hundreds of hours of supervised instruction in clinical practice.

removing plaque below the gum-line
Removing plaque below the gum-line
hygienist and patient
An excellent resource

What They Do

Hygienists serve several functions in the dental office. They check for and treat many dental conditions, clean your teeth using specialized tools, and provide patient education.

As part of the preventative function of the hygienist’s job, she will thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth, removing plaque, tartar, and stains from the visible surface of the teeth as well as the surface below the gumline. She will also carefully examine your teeth, mouth, and gums, plus prescreen for any signs of decay, gum disease, or other potential problems.

During your dental cleaning, your hygienist will use floss, special cleaning compounds, and instruments specifically designed to clean your teeth effectively and comfortably, like ultrasonic cleansers and rotary instruments. She may be involved with the specialized treatment of advanced periodontal disease, such as scaling and root planing. Other possible duties of the hygienist include:

  • Applying fluoride gel or other treatments
  • Taking dental x-rays
  • Teaching you how to properly care for your teeth at home, including which tools to use and the most effective ways to use them
  • Providing information about the relationship between a healthy diet and dental health

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