A dental office has various staff. They include receptionists, dentists, dental hygienists, and dental nurses. A dental hygienist works under a dentist. They offer preventive and curative services. Dental hygienists also educate patients on ways to support oral health. They support dentists during a patient’s dental treatment.
How Do Dental Hygienists Promote Oral Health Care?
Dental hygienists are often overlooked. Yet, they are a crucial link between dentists and patients. Their responsibilities include the following:
They provide mental support to patients
For many patients, dental visits are a distressing part of life. Dental hygienists often are the initial point of medical contact with patients. Their compassion and friendliness comforts patients, especially the paediatric ones and their handlers.
It is upon the hygienists to explain the course of treatment to patients. This way, they reduce anxiety in patients. Their empathy makes them part of the support team that patients need. They are therapeutic support during treatment and follow-ups. It is easier for dentists to work with calm patients, thanks to the support of dental hygienists.
Evaluating the state of a patient’s oral health
The dental hygienist has the skills needed to assess a patient. They can diagnose problems like tooth decay, orthodontic issues, and gum disease. They identify the signs and symptoms of dental diseases. They also attempt to pinpoint the cause of the problem.
The hygienist also collects information about the patient’s dental and medical history. The data helps in determining the patient’s vulnerability to health problems. Such problems include periodontal disease, gingivitis, hypertension, and oral cancers.
The hygienist also takes into account any treatments the patient is on. These include non-prescription and prescription medications. They take the patient’s blood pressure. They also review dietary factors affecting the patient’s oral health.
They plan and implement a dental treatment plan
After diagnosing, the dental hygienists present the results to the dentist. They also discuss the diagnosis report with the patient. Although they often refer patients to dentists, hygienists handle preventive oral care. Some hygienists in Australia run independent clinics. However, many work under the supervision of dentists.
They perform teeth cleaning, such as removing plaque and tartar. People with stained teeth see hygienists who give fluoride treatments and polish teeth. Dentists entrust hygienists with sterilisation and disinfection of surfaces and dental tools. This clean-up helps avoid cross-contamination and infections.
Many hygienists also perform and interpret dental X-rays. They also create customised mouthguards using plaster models. These models protect the teeth from injury during high-impact activities such as sports.
They educate patients and caregivers on appropriate oral care. This way, they instil the correct behaviour and attitude to promote dental health. Nutrition forms an essential part of good oral health. Dental hygienists advise on that.
They also address other aspects of a person’s lifestyle that impact dental health. Their advice mainly focuses on daily dental habits. Such include choosing the right toothbrush, brushing and flossing teeth correctly, and the right diet to promote good oral health.
They manage patients’ records
Hygienists collect personal and medical data from patients. They keep the data in an organised records system. They update a patient’s medical history. The records kept by hygienists also show the treatment plans.
They document all procedures performed on the patient at the dental practice. These records provide a tracking system for returning and new patients. The records also help in the documentation required to claim insurance for dental care.
Dental Hygienists Promote Overall Wellbeing
Dental hygienists receive training and are licensed oral health professionals. Their duties depend on their qualifications and experience. These responsibilities include preventing dental diseases, offering treatment, and upholding patients’ overall health.