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Dental hygiene Information


Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventive dental care. They also educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health.

Duties of Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists typically do the following:

  • Remove tartar, stains, and plaque from teeth
  • Apply sealants and fluorides to help protect teeth
  • Take and develop dental x rays
  • Assess patients’ oral health and report findings to dentists
  • Document patient care and treatment plans
  • Educate patients about oral hygiene techniques, such as how to brush and floss correctly

Dental hygienists use many types of tools to do their job. They clean and polish teeth with hand, power, and ultrasonic tools. In some cases, they use lasers. Hygienists remove stains with an air-polishing device, which sprays a combination of air, water, and baking soda. They polish teeth with a powered tool that works like an automatic toothbrush. Hygienists use x-ray machines to take pictures to check for tooth or jaw problems.

Dental hygienists help patients develop and maintain good oral health. For example, they may explain the relationship between diet and oral health. They also may give advice to patients on how to select toothbrushes and other oral-care devices.

The tasks hygienists may perform, and the extent that they must be supervised by a dentist, varies by state and by the setting in which the dental hygienist works. Some states allow hygienists to independently diagnosis health problems and provide some treatments, such as application of fluorides and sealants.

Dental hygienists held about 200, 500 jobs in 2014. Almost all dental hygienists worked in dentists’ offices in 2014. A small number of hygienists worked in other settings, including offices of physicians, outpatient clinics, and schools. Dental hygienists work closely with dentists.

Dental hygienists wear safety glasses, surgical masks, and gloves to protect themselves and patients from infectious diseases. When taking x rays, they follow strict procedures to protect themselves and patients from radiation.



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