A dental hygienist is a highly
trained and licensed oral health professional who provides you with
educational, clinical, and therapeutic services to enhance your oral and
overall health. A dental hygienist uses her skills and knowledge to prevent,
detect, and treat gum disease and tooth decay in her patients.
Hygienists receive intensive, specialized education and training that includes
courses in chemistry, head and neck anatomy, physiology, , microbiology,
pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, advanced dental sciences, and dental
hygiene. Prior to graduation, hygienists must complete hundreds of hours
of supervised instruction in clinical practice.
Why is it
important for you to see the hygienist?
The hygienist will thoroughly
clean all surfaces of your teeth, removing plaque, tartar, and stains from
above and below your gum line (the point where your teeth meet your gums). She
will evaluate the health of your gums, and she may be involved with the
specialized treatment of advanced gum disease, which includes procedures such
as scaling and root planing. Your hygienist will also teach you how to
effectively care for your teeth at home to help you prevent decay and
The hygienist may take and develop dental x-rays so the Houston dentist can view them and quickly diagnose any
problems. Your hygienist may also explain the relationship between your diet
and dental health, offering suggestions about which foods to select and which
to avoid. She may apply fluoride gels, show you how to select the proper
toothbrush, and demonstrate the most effective techniques for brushing and flossing
to help you maintain excellent oral hygiene.
Who’s Taking Care ofYour Oral Health?
When you go for your oral health appointment, make sure you are receiving
care from a properly educated and licensed oral health prevention specialist—a
registered dental hygienist.
- Ask the person delivering care if he or she has graduated from an education
program accredited by the American Dental Association Commission on Dental
- Look to see if the dental hygienist’s “RDH” license is in plain view.
- Get to know your dental hygienist by name.
- Ask your dental hygienist for treatment and at-home-care plans.
- Ask your dental hygienist to recommend oral health products that are specially
formulated for your oralhealth care needs.
- Prevention is the key: discuss any questions or concerns you have about
oral health as part of total health with your dental hygienist.
So What Should You Expect from Your Dental Hygienist?
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 specifictreatment plan designed to make sure each patient has the
best oral health possible.
- Targeted and specific dental hygiene treatment for children, adolescents,
adults, olderadults, 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 headand-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 pitand-fissure sealants, and in some states, polish and contour
- Because dental hygienists specialize in preventive oral health care, they
educate their patients, the community, and schoolson 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 nitrous oxide.
- Dental hygienists also evaluate how their recommendations are working and,
when necessary, revise treatment as it progresses to helppatients achieve
their oral health goals.
The dental hygienist is an
excellent resource that can help you and your family keep your healthy smiles
for a lifetime!
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Grinding Your Teeth (Bruxism)
Gum Disease and Heart Attacks: Is There a Connection?
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Tongue Piercing Causes Serious Health Problems
Proper Flossing Technique
of Regular Exams
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and Your Health