When you visit your dentist’s office, you’ve likely noticed that you spend a lot of time with a dental hygienist before your dentist comes into the room. It might cause you to wonder what the role of a dental hygienist is, and how it differs from that of your dentist.
Just like your dentist (and you!), the dental hygienist performs preventative dental treatment that is important to maintaining your oral health. Not only that, they always greet you with a smile, and do whatever they can to ensure that you have an excellent experience every time you visit the office.
Professional roles of the dental hygienist
Dental hygienists focus primarily on preventative dental care. They work closely with your dentist to protect your oral health by carrying out several crucial tasks that will help you keep a perfect smile, including:
- Examining your teeth and gums for signs of oral disease
- Deep cleaning and scaling your teeth, as well as tooth polishing
- Applying fluoride treatments
- Reviewing your oral health history and dental charts
- Performing non-surgical gum treatments such as root planing
- Taking impressions of your teeth for dental casts
- Updating your dental health file
- Advising the dentist on specific dental concerns
- Cleaning, sterilizing, and maintaining the dental tools and equipment used after every use, as well as the examination room
- Providing patients with education, advice, and information about maintaining good oral hygiene
Dental hygienists also prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests so the dentist can later review and evaluate the results. Dental hygienists will not diagnose serious oral conditions, or carry out major dental treatments, such as root canals, that are normally handled by dentists, periodontists, and orthodontists. However, in some cases, dental hygienists can assist in orthodontic treatment or placing fillings without a dentist present.
One of the most important functions of a dental hygienist is to ensure that you’re comfortable throughout your visit, and to explain all aspects of the treatment they are providing. They’re trained to answer all of your questions, and make professional, proactive recommendations to improve your oral health. Following their advice will help you avoid potential tooth and gum problems in the future and help you maintain good oral and overall health and well-being.
Helping you avoid periodontal disease
Dental hygienists also help you curb periodontal (or gum) disease by carefully removing tartar that builds up on your teeth. They can also educate you on strategies to reduce tartar buildup, including preventative measures that can easily be integrated into your normal dental maintenance routine.
Your dental hygienist will be among the first to applaud your efforts when your oral health shows significant improvement because of your efforts. Get ready for a high-five!
Dental hygienist education requirements
Dental hygienists are regulated health professionals who work in many healthcare settings, including dental offices, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and more.
To practice as a dental hygienist in Canada, candidates must take a dental hygiene diploma or bachelor program, usually 3 years in length, that includes intensive studies in oral and clinical science, as well as preventative oral health skills. Upon successfully completing the program, dental hygienists must be licensed or registered by their provincial or territorial dental hygiene regulatory authority in order to practice.
Dental hygienists are also required to take continuing education courses every year to keep them compliant with current quality assurance requirements.
In Ontario, practicing dental hygienists must be registered with The College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario (CDHO), which sets the requirements needed to be registered as a dental hygienist. The CDHO also establishes standards for proper care that safeguard the health and safety of all dental patients in Ontario.
An individual cannot use the title of “dental hygienist” or operate as a dental hygienist without being registered with the CDHO.
Is dental hygiene a good career path to follow?
Dental hygiene is an excellent career choice for people who love to help others achieve better health and overall well-being. It is both rewarding and challenging work that makes a positive contribution to the community.
Aside from the formal training, dental hygienists need to have several soft skills to help them succeed, such as excellent communication and listening skills, an empathetic approach to health care, and the ability to offer advice and guidance that builds relationships based on trust.
You must also be good with small tools, have exceptional hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and manual dexterity.
Being a dental hygienist requires a professional, reliable, and strong work ethic, as there is rarely a dull moment in your career. However, it’s also very fulfilling work, knowing that at the end of each day you’ve put multiple people on the road to good oral health.
Our dental hygienists at Yonge Eglinton Dental
We’re proud of our dental hygienist team who dedicate themselves every day to ensuring that our patients receive the best oral care possible, while providing a safe, comfortable environment in which all of our patients’ questions are answered and oral healthcare needs are met.
The next time you visit our office, be sure to say hello to our wonderful team of dental hygienists. They’re here to help give you a smile that will last a lifetime!
What is the role of a dental hygienist at Yonge Eglinton Dental in Toronto?
The dental hygienists at Yonge Eglinton Dental are dedicated to helping you achieve the best oral health possible while ensuring your visit with us is as comfortable as possible. To book a routine dental checkup, give Yonge Eglinton Dental a call today at 416-932-2222 or book an appointment online. Our entire team – including our dental hygienists – will be happy to see you!
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