hygienists remove soft and hard deposits from teeth, teach patients how
to practice good oral hygiene, and provide other preventive dental care.
They examine patients' teeth and gums, recording the presence of
diseases or abnormalities.
Dental hygienists use an
assortment of different tools to complete their tasks. Hand and rotary
instruments and ultrasonic devices are used to clean and polish teeth,
including removing calculus, stains, and plaque. Hygienists use digital
and traditional x-ray machines to take and develop dental pictures. They
may use models of teeth to explain oral hygiene, perform root planning
as a periodontal therapy, or apply cavity-preventative agents such as
fluorides and pit and fissure sealants.
In some states, hygienists are
licensed to administer local anesthetics using syringes. Some states also allow hygienists to place
and carve filling materials, temporary fillings, and periodontal
dressings; remove sutures; and smooth and polish metal restorations.
Dental hygienists also
help patients develop and maintain good oral health. For example, they
may explain the relationship between diet and oral health or inform
patients how to select toothbrushes and show them how to brush and floss
make a diagnosis and other times may prepare clinical and laboratory
diagnostic tests for the dentist to
interpret. Hygienists sometimes work chair side with the dentist during
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.