Dental Hygiene Services 1

Dental Hygiene Services

Whether one dreads, tolerates or enjoys their visits to the dental office, the one thing they absolutely count on is professional services from the moment they walk in, through treatment and to the moment they walk out. Where dentists are often viewed as the most important professional in a dental office, dental hygienists also play a vital role in providing needed dental treatment and services. Together with the dentist, a highly trained and experienced dental hygienist works to help provide patients with all their oral health needs. In fact, chances are that many of the basic dental services you need on a regular basis are provided by a dental hygienist, not a dentist.

What a Dental Hygienist Does

The exact services that are provided by dental hygienists can vary from state to state simply because regulations also vary from state to state. That said, some of the basic services that most dental hygienists perform include:

  • Patient screening. The dental hygienist will perform a thorough oral health assessment, health history review, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection, taking of blood pressure and pulse and dental charting. This includes lifting the lips to feel the soft tissues of the mouth and visually inspecting the health of the teeth and gums. They will also note whether any teeth have untreated decay that needs to be addressed and resolved or whether any teeth show signs of trauma.
  • Taking dental x-rays. Dental x-rays are a very important part of diagnosing and preventing dental problems. X-rays show tooth, bone and tissue detail, allowing dentists to find cavities, view tooth roots and bones, diagnose any periodontal disease and check on developing teeth.
  • Performing full dental cleanings. This includes removing plaque and tartar from all surfaces of the teeth, polishing the teeth and applying protective materials like sealants and fluorides to the teeth. Full, professional dental cleanings help to prevent cavities from forming, stop tooth loss from occurring, brighten your teeth and smile by polishing away stains, freshen your breath, protect your overall health and help you to save money by avoiding costly restorative treatments.
  • Teaching patients about proper oral hygiene techniques. This includes brushing your teeth thoroughly and properly every single day, flossing your teeth thoroughly and properly every single day, using dental products that contain fluoride and eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Proper brushing and flossing is a very exact technique that can be difficult to understand unless one is shown exactly why and how to do it. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help to strengthen one’s overall health and protect against dental issues.
  • Making dental impressions. Dental impressions are an exact mold of your mouth, taken for the purpose of ensuring that repair pieces, such as crowns or bridges, will feel comfortable and natural while not irritating the soft tissues inside your cheeks or along your gums. These impressions come with very minimal discomfort and are important as they ensure the best results will be achieved with the new dental appliances being installed.
  • Performing office management and documentation. As they understand basic dental procedures very well, dental hygienists can be instrumental in proper office management and patient file documentation. Needless to say, this can help to ensure seamless delivery of important dental services to all office patients.

Dental hygienists must defer to dentists for certain aspects of oral care. For example, extensive oral health issues, such as advanced gum disease, needs to be assessed by a dentist. An oral health screening that is performed by a dental hygienist is not a substitute for a full dental examination by a dentist. In many cases, the dental hygienist is not able to tell you what they see during the screening, but can inform the dentist and have the dentist make the diagnosis. A dentist must also diagnose conditions like decayed or broken teeth and is the one who can prescribe any needed antibiotics, painkillers or other medications. Once a diagnosis has been made and treatment has been decided upon, a dental hygienist may be able to render this treatment under the supervision of a dentist.

Dental hygienists are well-trained and experienced and provide valuable health care services to patients with a wide variety of oral health needs.


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