Dental Hygienist

Summary

Dental hygienists use preventive, educational and therapeutic methods for controlling oral diseases to help individual patients and groups achieve and maintain oral health.

Duties & Tasks

Dental hygienists may perform the following tasks:

  • assess and record oral health conditions and plan treatments
  • educate, counsel and provide instruction for people of all ages, as well as other healthcare professionals, on oral health and hygiene, plaque control and nutrition
  • remove deposits and stains from teeth by scaling, root debridement and tooth polishing
  • identify and apply prevention strategies and control mechanisms for dental caries (decay) and periodontal (gum) disease
  • select and use appropriate fluoride treatments, and polish tooth restorations
  • apply professional tooth whitening agents
  • place temporary dental restorations
  • expose, process and interpret dental X-rays
  • take impressions of patients' mouths for the construction of study casts, mouthguards and orthodontic appliances
  • carry out orthodontic procedures that do not initiate tooth movement (such as band sizing and selection or bonding of fixed retainers)
  • apply and remove periodontal dressings and rubber dams
  • stabilise teeth affected by gum disease
  • select and administer pain control techniques, including local anaesthesia
  • remove dental sutures (stitches)
  • instruct patients on looking after their teeth and mouth after operations.

Working Conditions

Dental hygienists may work in a team with other dental practitioners.

Personal Requirements

  • good hand-eye coordination
  • able to perform precise and detailed work
  • good problem-solving skills
  • good communication skills
  • interest in healthcare work
  • able to work as part of a team.

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