An oral hygienist is a licensed dental professional.
Requirements: completion of clinical and written board examinations, having either an Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene from an accredited college or university.
Work independently of or alongside dentists and other dental professionals to provide full oral health care.
Trained and educated in the prevention and treatment of many oral diseases.
Competencies required include: biomedical knowledge, manual dexterity, critical thinking, analytical skills, and communication skills.
Dental hygienists assess a patient’s oral condition to offer patient-specific preventive and educational services to promote and maintain good oral health.
They perform periodontal therapy which includes: periodontal charting, periodontal debridement by scaling and root planing, preventing disease or periodontal maintenance procedures for patients with periodontal disease.
Some hygienists are licensed to administer local anesthesia and perform dental radiography, and are also the primary resource for oral cancer screening and prevention.
Hygienists may take intraoral radiographs, apply dental sealants, administer topical fluoride, and provide oral hygiene instructions.
They work together with dentists, dental therapists, and oral health therapists.
Services provided by dental hygienists may include:
patient screening procedures;
such as assessment of oral health conditions,
review of the health history,
oral cancer screening,
head and neck inspection,
blood pressure and pulse measurements
taking and developing dental X-rays
removing calculus and plaque from teeth
applying preventive materials to the teeth- sealants and fluorides.
teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene
counseling about good nutrition and its impact on oral health
making impressions of patients’ teeth.
Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque.
To remove deep pockets of plaque dental hygienists use scaling and root planing and smooth the tooth root to remove bacterial toxins.
Dental hygienists must be graduates from a dental hygiene program, with either an associate degree,a certificate, a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree from a dental hygienist school that is accredited by the American Dental Association (ADA).
All dental hygienists in the United States must be licensed by the state in which they practice, after completing a minimum of two years of school and passing a board known as the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as a clinical board exam.
R.D.H signifies a registered dental hygienist.
A more advanced level of dental hygiene, exists, the Advanced Dental Hygiene Practitioner otherwise known as a dental therapist.