Dental hygienists and dentists are professionals who work in dentistry, but they have different roles and responsibilities.
What is a dental hygienist?
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who works under the supervision of a dentist. They are primarily responsible for cleaning teeth, examining patients for signs of oral disease, taking X-rays, and providing preventive care, such as fluoride treatments and dental sealants. They may also educate patients on proper oral hygiene practices and provide recommendations for home care.
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who works as part of a dental team to help patients achieve and maintain good oral health. They typically work in dental offices, clinics, or hospitals.
The primary responsibilities of a dental hygienist include the following:
- Cleaning teeth: Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth using special tools and techniques to remove plaque, tartar, and other buildups.
- Examining patients: They look at patients’ teeth and gums for signs of disease or other issues, such as cavities or gum disease.
- Educating patients: Dental hygienists teach patients about proper oral hygiene techniques, including brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash. They may also advise on nutrition and other lifestyle factors impacting oral health.
- Applying preventive treatments: They may apply fluoride treatments or sealants to help prevent cavities and other oral health problems.
- Documenting patient care: They keep detailed records of patients’ oral health history, treatment plans, and progress.
To become a dental hygienist, a person typically needs to complete an accredited dental hygiene program, which usually takes two years. After completing the program, they must pass a licensure exam to practice as a dental hygienist.
What separates hygienists from dentists?
On the other hand, dentists are licensed oral health professionals who have completed dental school and have advanced training in diagnosing and treating oral health issues. They analyse and treat dental problems, such as cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. They also provide restorative and cosmetic dental treatments, such as fillings, crowns, bridges, and dental implants.
In addition to providing direct patient care, dentists also oversee the work of dental hygienists and other dental professionals, such as dental assistants and lab technicians. They are responsible for developing treatment plans, coordinating care with other healthcare providers, and ensuring their patients receive high-quality care.
Overall, dental hygienists and dentists play essential roles in maintaining and improving their patients’ oral health. Dental hygienists focus on preventive care and cleaning, while dentists diagnose and treat oral health issues and provide more complex dental treatments.