Dental hygienists are licensed dental professionals that specialize in oral health. In part, a dental hygienist job description includes helping patients in the prevention of disease, providing treatment and administering oral hygiene. They provide patient education such as diet and oral health and how to select and use toothbrushes and other oral equipment. In some cases, dental hygienists put in fillings and dressings, remove stitches and polish metal restorations. Other areas allow dental hygienists to administer anesthesia.
Because local regulations dictate the scope of their practice, the answer to the question what does a dental hygienist do will vary depending on the geographical location of the job. But in all cases, a dental hygienist should be a person who works well with other people since they will be working closely with the dentist and dealing with patients and their families. They must also possess a high level of manual dexterity to use delicate instruments in patients’ mouths.
In the majority of cases, the work environment of a dental hygienist is a clean, well lit dentist office or hospital. Since part of the dental hygienist job description will involve the use of x-rays, they must adhere to strict safety procedures regarding radiation. They will most likely work around anesthetic gas and be required to wear protection such as safety glasses, gloves and masks. The dental hygienist job description will include the requirement to stand or sit for long periods of time, so they have to be careful to avoid neck and shoulder injuries.
Tools of the Trade
Cleaning teeth is one of many job duties included in a dental hygienist job description. Dental hygienists must be proficient in using hand and rotary tools that clean and polish teeth. They must be adept in the use of ultrasonic devices such as x-ray machines and in some cases they must know how to develop film. Another aspect of a dental hygienist job description is patient education. This duty requires using models of teeth to teach oral hygiene or to explain an upcoming procedure or surgery to a patient. A dental hygienist also uses chemicals such as fluorides and sealants during the course of their job duties.
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