How Dental Hygienists Help with Healthy Smiles

Posted on October 5, 2015 in General oral health

Dental nurse showing boy how to clean teeth properlyAt most dental offices, your dentist isn't the only person working to make sure your smile stays healthy. Dental hygienists play a critical in making sure you receive efficient, quality care. The range of services provided by your hygienist may vary from office to office, but here are some of the things they may do.1

Screenings. You may not even realize it's happening during your checkup, but your hygienist is trained to perform a variety of screenings, including checking for signs of periodontal (gum) disease, oral cancer, tooth grinding and infection.2

X-rays. If your dentist decides you need X-rays, your hygienist will help properly position you in the chair, make sure you wear a radiation-blocking lead apron and place X-ray holding devices between your teeth to ensure clear images.3 After the X-rays have been taken, your dentist and hygienist will review them for signs of any problems – and then explain the findings to you.

Remove plaque and tartar. If you have an appointment for a cleaning and exam, the hygienist will usually perform the cleaning prior to the dentist's exam. During the cleaning, the hygienist will use a small metal tool called a scaler to scrape off plaque and tartar from your teeth and around the gum line.4 He or she will also polish away enamel stains, leaving your teeth smooth and bright.

Apply preventive treatments. Preventive treatments such as sealants and fluoride treatments may be handled by your hygienist before the dentist comes in to perform an exam.5

Educate about good oral health habits and nutrition. From advice and reminders about brushing and flossing to recommending healthy snacks, your hygienist is full of helpful information about keeping your smile in tip-top condition.6

Hygienists are an essential part of the team at your dentist's office! Be sure to thank yours the next time you stop in for a checkup.