What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

hygienist performing a teeth cleaning service

During any trip to the dentist, a dental hygienist will be one of the many people you interact with as part of your visit. You’re probably asking yourself, ‘what does a dental hygienist do?’ if you’ve never scheduled a one-on-one appointment before. Rather than serving solely in a support role, hygienists play a crucial part in the larger practice, with a key focus on preventive oral health care. Routine visits will help deal with problems early. Both gum disease and dental decay are entirely preventable and are often painless or symptomless in their earlier stages.

Whether you need tips on how to improve your brushing and flossing technique or are merely long overdue for scale and polish, it’s time to start thinking about your next appointment with a dental hygienist. Searching for a dentist in Cork with first-rate hygienist services? At Bandon Dental, you can expect five-star service as standard.  

What Do Dental Hygienists Do? 

dental hygienist performing a check

Dental hygienists are often seen as the right hand of a dentist. While this is true to a degree, they also perform a unique role within a larger dental team. “Unlike dentists, who focus on checkups and performing reactive treatment, a typical hygienist focuses on preventive care,” said Deirdre Dunne, a dental hygienist at Bandon Dental. “A dental hygienist provides bespoke advice to patients on how best to care for their teeth and can also look for signs of decay and gum disease.”

While many people choose to book an appointment with a hygienist for scale and polish treatment, they’re also a staple fixture of every visit to a dental practice. They’ll liaise with patients regarding oral health issues and medical histories, oversee X-ray screenings, and more.  

6 Reasons to Visit Your Dental Hygienist. 

  1. Healthy gums. 
  2. Get rid of bad breath. 
  3. Get whiter teeth. 
  4. Prevent oral cancer 
  5. Smoking cessation 
  6. Improve your confidence 

Hygienists are oral hygiene coaches who will show you the correct products and how to use them. They are invaluable to any dental practice. 

What Responsibilities Do Dental Hygienists Have? 

 A dental hygienist will also work closely with patients themselves under the prescription of the dentist.  Whether you’re heading in for a long-overdue checkup or visiting your local practice to have orthodontics fitted, it will be a dental hygienist who you deal with following a dental check-up or assessment. What do dental hygienists do that sets them apart from dentists? Below are some of their most important responsibilities.  

Checking Dental and Medical Histories 

Regardless of what kind of treatment you’re visiting your dentist for, a dental hygienist will first perform a thorough check to confirm your dental history as well as any changes to your overall medical history. 

If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a new health condition or a doctor has made a change to an ongoing prescription, this will need to be flagged during your consultation with a dental hygienist. This is an important part of any visit to the dentist and will identify any oral health issues and prevent things like drug interactions with local anesthetics from occurring.  

The Screening Process 

This often forms part of the preliminary oral health and medical check, especially if it’s your first visit to the dentist in a long time. A dental hygienist will work under the prescription of the dentist and follow instructions on what they recommend. It might just be a simple scale and polish, oral hygiene instruction, or maybe deeper cleanings under local anesthesia will be required. This is also known as periodontal treatment and may require more than one visit with the dental hygienist.

What does a dental hygienist do next? If it’s your first trip to the dentist in many years, you’ll almost certainly need to have dental X-rays taken. X-rays provide a clear image of the current condition of your teeth, jaw, and bone support.  

Professional Teeth Cleaning 

Many patients choose to visit a dental hygienist for regular dental cleanings. While you can receive scale and polish treatment from dentists and hygienists, it’s always a good idea to arrange regular visits to your dental hygienist. But what is a scale and polish? They’ll look for signs of gum disease and identify plaque and tartar buildup, using specialist tools to remove it before it becomes a more serious issue.

During the process, any superficial stains will also be removed from the surface of your teeth. However, it’s not always possible to remove darker stains during a scale and polish. If you’re looking to restore your teeth to a more natural appearance, you’ll need to investigate teeth whitening treatments. Ideally, you should aim to visit a dental hygienist at least once every six months.  

What Happens After a Dental Cleaning? 

 While a dentist can help resolve an issue once it’s become a problem, the dental hygienist takes a more preemptive approach. “Preventative care is at the heart of the dental hygienist’s remit,” Deirdre Dunne said. “Once cleaning has been carried out, hygienists can administer fissure sealants or fluoride treatments to help maintain good levels of dental health.”

What’s more, hygienists will consider the current dental health of the individual, providing tailored advice to help them maintain optimal dental health in between visits.  

If you’re wondering, ‘What does a dental hygienist do that a dentist doesn’t?’, look no further than the patient education they provide. Many youngsters don’t have a good grasp on brushing techniques, but it’s not just younger patients who need a little guidance sometimes. Hygienists will offer useful tips on brushing techniques, flossing best practices, and the products a patient should be using.  

Looking for a Dental Hygienist in Cork? 

If you’re worried about unsightly stains, plaque, and tartar, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a dental hygienist. If you’re searching for a dentist in Bandon for a scale and polish or need an advanced oral hygiene consultation, you’ve come to the right place. Along with first-rate hygienist services, we offer a full range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic treatment solutions. Thinking about orthodontics or Invisalign? We can help with that too.

Would you like to make an appointment today? Use the online contact form to schedule a callback, or get in touch today at (023) 884-1752.

Author Bio:

Deirdre Dunne

Bandon Dental’s dedicated owner. A highly qualified Dental Hygienist, Deirdre has over a decade of experience, with a diploma in dental hygiene from Cork University’s Dental School and Hospital. Deirdre is committed to continuous up-skilling and investment in the most up-to-date technology in our practice. This ensures our patients receive the highest standard of care, as Bandon Dental stays abreast of the latest advancements in dental hygiene for optimal oral health.

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