Why your dental hygienist is valuable to your oral health

A dental hygienist is one of your first lines of defense when it comes to oral health care. Since they talk with you before, during and after your dental exams, hygienists are true partners of your dentist — helping you to understand the best ways to manage your oral health.

What does a dental hygienist do?

  • Reviews your health history, takes your blood pressure and looks for any problems you might be having with your oral health
  • Takes and develop dental x-rays
  • Cleans your teeth
  • Applies sealants
  • Applies fluoride treatments, using a mouth rinse, gel or foam
  • Shows you how to brush and floss correctly
  • Talks with you about good eating habits and how they affect your oral health

What training does a dental hygienist have?

A dental hygienist typically spends at least two years in school working toward an Associate’s degree before becoming licensed to work in a dental office or other location.

What’s the difference between a dentist and a hygienist?

  • A dentist spends four years at dental school and must have a state-specific license to practice.
  • A dentist diagnoses specific dental problems, such as the need for an extraction, oral surgery or other problems related to your oral health. Dentists also perform more complex procedures, such as root canals and fillings, and are licensed to prescribe medicine. A hygienist is responsible for services like cleanings and fluoride treatments.

With all that’s involved, it’s no wonder your dental hygienist is so important to your oral health. So the next time you visit the dentist, give your hygienist a big smile and say, “Thanks!”

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Published: March 2018
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