Role of the Hygienist

The dental hygienist’s primary role is the treatment, control, and prevention of periodontal disease. This is the disease that affects the supporting structures of the teeth and is the major cause of tooth loss in adults.

Dental hygienists are licensed oral health care professionals who have completed extensive educational and clinical preparation in preventive oral health care. Dental hygienists must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene school, pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination, and pass a state/regional clinical licensure examination. In addition, all registered dental hygienists must participate in continuing education courses, keeping them up to date on the latest trends in dental hygiene practice and legislation regarding the profession.

Registered dental hygienists can provide a wide range of services as determined by laws in each state.
These services include the following:

  • After assessing a patient’s individual oral health condition and incorporating the most current scientific research, including consideration of the impact of oral health on diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, dental hygienists plan a specific treatment plan designed to make sure each patient has the best oral health possible. Targeted and specific dental hygiene treatment for children, adolescents, adults, older adults, and patients who are medically compromised.
  • Because targeted and specific systemic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, as well as other conditions, have signs and symptoms that appear in the mouth first, dental hygienists monitor for evidence of disease, and where they find suspicious conditions, inform the patient and recommend a visit to a physician.
  • While assessing a patient’s overall health, they also look for problems such as caries (cavities) and periodontal (gum) disease. Dental hygienists perform thorough head-and-neck examinations to look for oral cancer and other problems.
  • To prevent and treat disease, they remove plaque (a stubborn film that contains bacteria), and calculus, both above and below the gum line. To prevent caries, dental hygienists provide nutrition counseling, apply fluorides or pit-and-fissure sealants, and in some states, polish and contour fillings.
  • Because dental hygienists specialize in preventive oral health care, they educate their patients, the community, and schools on oral health and its effect on overall health, as well provide dietary education and counseling.
  • They expose, develop, and interpret oral X-rays. In many states, registered dental hygienists administer local anesthesia and/or laughing gas.
  • Dental hygienists also evaluate how their recommendations are working and, when necessary, revise treatment as it progresses to help patients achieve their oral health goals.

A dental hygienist’s major role is in the provision of oral health education and the prevention of oral disease by promoting healthy oral behaviors. A dental hygienist’s primary task is in prevention and non-surgical treatment of periodontal diseases.

Dental hygiene practice is a subset of the practice of dentistry. Dental hygienists practice in a team situation, under the direct clinical supervision by a practicing dentist.

Dental hygiene practice includes teaching, research and management given that such roles influence clinical practice and public safety, but most of all we are there to help patients.

To meet our friendly, experienced dental hygienists, please call our office today at The Denture Center Phone Number 212-256-9978!