A dental hygienist can provide preventive dental hygiene services directly to a patient without the prior examination, presence, or authorization of a dentist. A dental hygienist can practice in any environment or facility that is documented in the dental hygienist's office access agreement. Hygienists are not a single entity, which means that they work in collaboration with the dentist. To have your teeth cleaned professionally, you'll need to undergo a complete dental exam to check the condition of your jaw.
You also need to have your dental records on file for easy access. As in many industries where maintenance and performance are cared for by a variety of different people, in dentistry, oral health is the competence of several professionals, each with different qualifications and skills, but all working together to achieve a result. In many dental offices today, you can expect to meet several professionals and staff, all with a different but related role. There may be a receptionist, a dental assistant, a dentist, a specialist and, last but not least, a dental hygienist.
When you go to the dentist, the first person you go to is usually the dental hygienist. Just as there are doctors and nurses in hospitals, in dental offices there are dentists and dental hygienists. Understanding what each person is doing can help you feel more comfortable during your next appointment. We look at the difference between the dentist and the dental hygienist and what you should expect from both.
As a dental hygienist, I graduated with a degree in oral health that trains me as a dental hygiene professional responsible for caring for the oral health of my patients. Therefore, the simple answer to the question of whether you should see a dental hygienist (and why) is that these dental professionals play a key role in the continuity of dental health maintenance and treatments. Your appointment with a dental hygienist may coincide with treatments provided by your general dentist. This isn't the only thing your hygienist can do for you, as they can identify areas that you normally skip when brushing your teeth and flossing and can help you improve your brushing technique.
However, the hygienist's time is specifically dedicated to preventing gum disease or identifying any pre-existing condition of this type. The dental hygienist can provide services without the supervision of a dentist in public health settings, including but not limited to hospitals, medical centers, schools and community clinics. Both associate degree (two years) and bachelor's degree (four years) programs qualify a person to take the exam and become a licensed dental hygienist. If any problems are detected, the hygienist or dentist will recommend further tests to check the severity and if there is any damage to the jaw.
Often, your dentist may even refer you to a hygienist so that the two professionals can work together to ensure that your mouth is generally healthy. Hygienists can care for their own patients, administer local anesthesia (at least in most states) and give you advice, as long as you also go to the dentist to be examined at least once a year. But generally, the amount of training a person needs to become a hygienist is less than the training required to be a dentist.