What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?

Dental hygienists, sometimes called oral hygienists, are licensed dental professionals. Dental hygienists focus and specialize in the prevention and treatment of oral diseases and work independently or alongside dentists to provide complete oral healthcare. Dental hygienists must pass clinical and written board exams, and have an associate or bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene from an accredited college or university.

Dental hygienists perform a variety of tasks in the dentist’s office. Dental hygienists screen patients, review health history and dental charts, take and develop dental x-rays, and remove plaque from surfaces of teeth. Dental hygienists also apply preventative materials such as sealants and fluorides, teach patients oral hygiene strategies, counsel patients about nutrition, and make impressions of patients' teeth.

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