If you have ever kept a dentist appointment, then you must have come across a dental hygienist. They are usually the first people you met before you go on with the dentist just like you meet nurses before doctors in a hospital. In this article, we will talk about the dental hygienist job description.
Who Is A Dental Hygienist?
Just as the name implies, a dental hygienist is a medical practitioner who deals with dental hygiene.
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral care practitioner whose job is to prevent and treat oral diseases and protect the patient’s dental health. They are graduates of registered and accredited dental hygiene programs in universities and colleges.
He or she advises patients on oral health and preventive care. The render help to the dentist decides the best treatment for dental treatments. In addition to treating patients directly, dental hygienists may also work as educators, researchers, and administrators.
Dental Hygienist Job Description: Duties and Responsibilities
Wondering what the day-to-day duties of a dental hygienist are?
Well, each state has its own specific regulations and the range of services performed by dental hygienists. It varies from state to state. Below are the most common duties of a dental hygienist.
#1. Reviewing Dental and Health History
Before any dental work is done by either the hygienist or the dentist, the hygienist must conduct a medical history.
This review is a critical tool that hygienists use to understand a patient’s past dental conditions and treatments. This review also helps prevent medical emergencies and access any oral health risks.
The information gathered from this review is used by the dental hygienist to create a dental treatment plan for a patient.
#2. Screening Patients
The dental hygienist also screens patients for tooth decay or other oral diseases before the dentist resumes work.
By examining the head, neck, and mouth, the hygienist might identify problems before they get out of control.
#3. Conducting Dental Cleanings
Dental cleaning is a very common and familiar part of a dental hygienist’s job description.
Hygienists use a variety of tools and techniques to remove tartar, stains, and plaques from teeth thereby improving their patients’ dental health by preventing cavities and tooth loss.
This exercise helps the patient achieve dental confidence, a beautiful smile, and overall oral health.
#4. Taking Dental X-rays
The dental hygienist also carries out dental which helps with preventive care. With this x-ray, the hygienist can spot problems while they are still young and treat them before they escalate into more complex issues.
#5. Applying Preventive Care
After cleaning the patient’s oral cavity, the hygienists take a more proactive approach by educating the patient in preventive oral care.
Precautionary treatments like fluoride and sealant application play an important role in promoting dental health between appointments.
#6. Teaching Patients Good Dental Hygiene
Teaching patients about dental hygiene is a basic aspect of a dental hygienist’s job. By teaching their patients how to best care for their mouths, they are effectively serving as public health ambassadors.
Dental care orientation is important as it guides the patient on how to properly brush and floss their teeth, and also stresses the importance of doing so.
#7. Helping Patients Improve and Maintain Good Dental Health
In line with the importance of patient education, dental hygienists help patients improve and maintain good dental health by promoting healthy habits and behaviors.
If equipped with the knowledge of proper techniques, patients are more likely to maintain good dental health.
#8. Documenting Care and Treatment as It’s Performed
Dental hygienists serve as a bridge between the dentist and the patient. After cleaning a patient’s teeth and screening for oral disease, the hygienist reports their findings to the dentist.
The hygienist prepares the patients for their visit with the dentist by educating the patient about their findings and outlining potential treatment options that the dentist may recommend or pursue.
They will also review areas of concern that will be further addressed by the dentist.
Documentation of dental care is as important as the actual care and treatment. Dental hygienists create and maintain dental records, as they keep track of everything that is discussed and performed during a patient’s visit.
Must-Have Skills Of A Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist needs a blend of soft and hard skills to succeed in the profession. Here are some of the required skills.
Good Oral Communication
To treat patients, you will need to converse with them verbally. You will need to take patient histories, speak with them about their oral hygiene habits and routine, and explain what you are doing during treatments.
If you have poor oral communication skills or show a lack of confidence, this task would be challenging for you.
Attention to Detail
Being detail-oriented is another crucial skill for dental hygienists. To complete treatments, you will need to carefully pay attention to what you and the dentist are doing.
You will need to be able to focus on small details of patients’ teeth or gums. If you do not have this skill, then the dental hygienist job may not be for you.
A dental hygienist encounters people with different oral concerns who do not have enough courage to see the dentist.
These patients come with a variety of emotions and dental hygienists has the be compassionate enough to manage these emotions. You should be able to comfort them, cheer them up, and get them ready to see the dentist.
Every patient is different. You will encounter unique challenges with each patient, and you will need to be a good problem solver to handle these challenges.
For instance, if you have terrified patients, you will need to figure out how to ease them and complete their treatments.
As a dental hygienist, you will work with sharp tools inside patients’ mouths. For that, you need to have excellent control of your hands to complete treatments safely.
You don’t want to cause more harm trying to solve the same.
Where Does Dental A Hygienist Work?
Dental hygienists work in a range of dental settings, from independent, private, or specialist practices to the public sector. They work together with dentists, dental therapists, oral health therapists as well as other dental professionals.
A dental hygienist may work in a variety of health care settings such as private dental offices, schools, public health clinics, hospitals, managed care organizations, correctional institutions, nursing homes, or in a corporate environment.
In addition to the clinical role, dental hygienists may also take up an administrative role.
How Much Does A Dental Hygienist Earn?
The salary of a dental hygienist varies from state to state but on a national level, a dental hygienist earns an average of $77,090 per year.
The best-paid 25 percent makes $91,620 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent makes $65,440.
Check out money.usnews.com’s this list of best-paying cities and states in the US.
Best-Paying Cities for Dental Hygienists
The metropolitan areas that pay the highest salary in the dental hygienist profession are Santa Maria, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Fairbanks, and San Francisco.
- Santa Maria, California———-$133,730
- San Jose, California—————$120,340
- Santa Rosa, California———–$118,980
- Fairbanks, Alaska—————–$117,760
- San Francisco, California——-$117,470
The Best-Paying States for Dental Hygienists
The states and districts that pay Dental Hygienists the highest mean salary are Alaska ($115,050), California ($109,970), Washington ($95,450), District of Columbia ($94,650), and Nevada ($89,360).
- District of Columbia————-$94,650
Training And Training Required
To help strengthen your abilities, dental assistants often obtain on-the-job training through an internship or clinical service hours.
Professional development training may also be required by dental practices on occasion. If you are expected to complete development training and ongoing education, you may be granted assistance.
Dental assistants can earn one of these types of certifications:
Certified Dental Assistant
This is frequently the first qualification that dental assistants receive. Certified dental assistants must pass a national examination and have a thorough understanding of dentistry’s technology, practices, and current policies.
Certified Orthodontic Assistant
This Certification is essential if you want to work in an orthodontist’s office. The methods and principles of orthodontic dentistry are covered in this qualification.
Certified Preventive Functions Dental Assistant and Restorative Functions
The nature of these two certifications is identical. Both require an understanding of preventative and restorative functions.
Both qualifications are also available to dental assistants who want to specialize in preventative or restorative dentistry. Sealants and fluoride, temporary crowns and caps, dental impressions, and restorative functions such as dentures, partials, and bridges are all part of it.
Also check out: Dental Assistant Resume Sample
Dental Hygienist Job Description Tools
Ever wondered what the tray of a dental hygienist consists of? Well, there are quite a number of tools used by dental hygienists to carry out their teeth cleaning and other oral hygiene duties effectively.
Below are some of the tools:
The mirror is the most important tool the hygienist uses because it allows them to see your teeth at multiple angles. These small, rounded mirrors help them to see your teeth and use the other tools effectively.
Probes are hook-like tools that are used to check gum health and measure pocket depths around a tooth. There are multiple probes that are each designed to detect specific oral health issues.
The scaler is what actually scrapes away plaque and tartar from your teeth. This is the tool that you probably wish we had to use less often but offers several benefits to your oral health.
A curette scrapes tartar from underneath the gums. It has a rounded, spoon-shaped end with a hole in it, and this allows the hygienist to remove dental calculus, which is a hard deposit at the base of the teeth.
This tool is used at the end of the cleaning to make the patient’s teeth shiny and bright. This removes surface-level stains and makes teeth smooth after being scaled.
Just as the name suction implies, this tool is used by the dental hygienist to remove saliva from the mouth while your teeth are cleaned. This eliminates the need for you to spit over a sink and helps keep your teeth dry when necessary, like during a filling procedure.
Dental Hygienist Job Description Template
The job description template for a dental hygienist just as in other professions defer from company to company.
In this article, you will see two samples of a dental hygienist job description template.
A dental hygienist is a licensed oral care practitioner whose job is to prevent and treat oral diseases and protect the patient’s dental health.
Most dental hygienists work in a private dental office but here are several other job opportunities available to dental hygienists in research institutes, schools, and even the public sector.
Dental hygienists can earn a Master’s degree in either Dental Hygiene, Education, Public Health, Business, or other health-related areas.
The payment plan depends on the working site but most private practice settings pay hygienists daily.
A dental hygienist in the dental care practice is as important as the dentist. They do all the reviews and preparatory checks before the dentist takes over. Sometimes, a patient’s appointment ends with the dental hygienist especially if it is not critical.
Just like every other medical career, you must be given a license by the dental association of your state before you can practice. You can also rise to the ranks in dental health practice as long as you build experience and go in for further studies.
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