Dental hygienists are specially trained members of the dental team who work together with your dentist to provide fully integrated dental care. Playing an important role in helping you maintain your oral health, they provide personalised preventive treatment and show you how to best care for your teeth at home.
Dental Hygienist vs dentist: what’s the difference?
While dental hygienists and dentists work together to ensure optimum patient care, they do play different roles.
A hygienist generally holds an Advanced Diploma or Bachelor of Oral Health degree and primarily plays a preventative role. They typically provide basic dental care, perform oral assessments and are here to help you with your overall dental health.
On the other hand, dentists complete a five year degree, often with additional postgraduate study. This extended qualification enables them to undertake more in-depth and complex dental treatments.
What does a dental hygienist do?
Within the dental practice, a hygienist is responsible for four main functions. These include:
- Providing personalised dental hygiene education. Your hygienist shows you how to best care for your teeth and gums. This includes advice on dietary habits and information on health conditions which may be adversely affecting your oral health.
- Collaborating with your dentist to plan an oral health maintenance program, including a thorough assessment of your gum health, evaluation of x-rays and a review of your medical history.
- A comprehensive clean, including the removal of plaque, calculus and stains from your teeth.
- Applying decay preventing agents and recommending the best products for you to use at home.
Helping you with your at-home dental care
Dental disease can be prevented and your dental hygienist is here to help you form healthy oral hygiene habits at home. Assisting you with effective plaque control techniques, a hygienist helps you to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. This, in turn, means that common dental problems are less likely to progress into more serious dental ailments, which could result in more invasive and costly dental treatment.
Because dental disease can occur at any age, visiting a dental hygienist is beneficial for both children and adults alike. For example, a hygienist can help kids to prevent tooth decay in their back teeth by applying dental fissure sealants in the grooves. Likewise, a hygienist will assist adults with a tailored, easy-to-manage at-home dental care plan.
Is it expensive to see a dental hygienist?
Preventive check-ups and prompt treatment of dental issues are both more cost-effective than allowing your oral health to deteriorate into a serious problem (which will generally lead to a more complex and costly treatment).