What is a Dental Hygienist’s Role? How They Assist in Oral Health Care
When it comes to taking care of your teeth, there are two types of professionals you might visit. One is your dentist, and the other is a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority (AHPRA) and are trained to perform a wide range of oral healthcare functions. In short, their role is to make sure you have healthy teeth and gums by educating you on good hygiene practices and providing treatment as necessary.
Below, we take a look at some of the roles a dental hygienist performs every day.
A dental hygienist undergoes specific training to work with patients to promote healthy teeth and gums. Their role typically includes cleaning teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup, educating patients on good oral hygiene practices, and applying fluoride varnish.
While dental hygienists work closely with dentists, they do not have the same qualifications. As a result, they may also refer you to a dentist where necessary. In fact, many dental surgeries employ dental hygienists as well as dentists, so you can often receive all the required treatment in one place – as you do when visiting your local dentist in Parramatta.
As well as requiring registration with AHPRA, dental hygienists require extensive training. To commence work in this role, a person needs to undertake their chosen form of study. There are usually two options:
• Advanced Diploma of Oral Health (Dental Hygiene), or
• Bachelor of Oral Health (Dental Hygiene)
Rest assured that when you visit a dental hygienist, they have the necessary skills to assist with your oral health care.
In addition, dental hygienists must also be registered with the Dental Board of Australia. This comes with various obligations, such as completing ongoing professional development and holding the correct insurance.
The role of a dental hygienist includes health promotion, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and education of patients. Their main goal is to improve oral health through preventive measures. A dental hygienist will also educate you and offer tips for maintaining good oral hygiene at home to help avoid further problems in the future. They can help you prevent cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems through regular checkups and cleanings. A dental hygienist will also examine the health of your mouth tissue and advise you on how to maintain it in-between visits.
Some of their major functions include:
· Health promotion
· Prevention services such as scaling (removing plaque) and polishing teeth
· Diagnosis of some dental conditions
· Oral health education
· Treatment services such as removing tartar build-up
· Dental cleaning
· Providing fluoride treatment
It’s important to note that your dental hygienist may perform some minor dental procedures too. These might include fillings, extracting baby teeth and more. For more serious issues, they may refer you to a dentist.
The short answer is yes. Your dental hygienist is trained to take X-rays of your teeth and analyse them. As we mentioned, complex surgery would need to be referred to a dentist. However, your hygienist is still capable of investigating and, in some cases, diagnosing dental conditions.
X-rays are just one tool at a dental hygienist’s disposal. They also use a selection of other techniques, such as examination, so they can best advise you on a suitable course of action for your individual needs.
A dental hygienist’s role is to make sure you have healthy teeth and gums by educating you on good hygiene practices. As we’ve already touched on, this can come in a variety of forms. But one of the most important ones is dental health education.
Despite a huge amount of dental education programs in Australian schools, the reality is that many people still don’t understand what it takes to maintain healthy teeth and gums. So, your dental hygienist takes the time to explain oral hygiene practices.
While you might think you can just read about oral healthcare for yourself (and you certainly can), there’s a major difference between personal research and visiting a dental hygienist. As a specialised healthcare professional, your dental hygienist doesn’t just provide generalised advice. They examine your mouth carefully, so the education you receive is tailored to your own specific needs.
For example, if they notice your enamel is eroding, they will give you specific tips on how to combat this.
To find a good hygienist, the first step is to ensure they hold all the proper qualifications and professional memberships. This includes registration with AHPRA and the Dental Board of Australia (DBA). They should also have completed the appropriate training, however, this is a requirement for registration with the DBA. So, if they’re registered, you should feel safe that they’re also trained.
The Australian Dental Council also offers assessment services for practitioners who don’t meet the usual requirements for registration with the DBA. This might include dental hygienists trained overseas. The assessment process ensures that all registered dental hygienists can demonstrate the skills and knowledge to provide safe, reliable services.
Aside from that, it’s really all about comfort and what works for you. You’ll obviously want somebody local, such as Dental Avenue, your local dentist in Parramatta. Cleanliness of the facility, hygiene, pricing and customer service are all other considerations.
For all your oral health care needs, contact Dental Avenue in Parramatta today. Our highly skilled and welcoming dental health practitioners can help you with all of your dental needs. Plus, we’ve created a safe and warm environment, so if you’re scared of visiting the dentist, don’t be. We’ll set your mind at ease. Contact us today to find out how we can help.