Dental Hygienist Week: What Is A Dental Hygienist

Dental Hygienist Week is celebrated April 11-17 this year. It’s a chance to say “Thank you” and recognize the amazing contributions that all the dental hygienists make at your Melbourne and Indian Harbour Beach, FL dentists’ offices. Without our dental hygienists, dentists would not be able to serve as many patients as efficiently as we do. So… what exactly is a dental hygienist?

Dental Hygienists Have Specialized Training

A person has to go through specialized training for several years in order to become a dental hygienist. There are about 300 accredited schools in the US that offer this training, and most of these programs take three years to complete. They receive a combination of in-classroom, laboratory, and clinical education in how to carry out their trade. Dental hygienists can also go through additional college level training, all the way up through a university Master’s degree program.

However, just because a person has completed that training doesn’t mean that we can immediately hire them in Florida.   Dental hygienists have to be licensed by the State of Florida before they can be employed.

Once they are trained and licensed, a dental hygienist has the knowledge and skills to carry out many of the day-to-day tasks in a dentist’s office. This includes helping patients, taking X-rays of teeth, conducting professional teeth cleanings, recognizing and identifying problems during screenings, and discussing the relationship between nutrition and dental health.

Here is something that can’t be taught in any medical school or certification program: A dental hygienist needs to be a “people person.” That doesn’t just mean that they are warm, outgoing, friendly and always have a smile for our patients.  It means they need to have these personality characteristics and so much more so patients feel comfortable and welcome.

Fear of visits to the dentist impacts many adults and children. The most successful dental hygienists are the types of people who can be a calming influence on kids or adults who experience anxiety during an office visit or procedure. They’re extremely empathetic professionals who help to reassure patients during stressful times.

How Dental Hygienists Serve You

Let’s walk through a typical day at the office with a dental hygienist:

When you come to your Melbourne, FL dentist for an appointment, your hygienist  works with you on patient screening procedures. They’ll talk about your oral health history and help you with paperwork, before taking your pulse and blood pressure. Additionally, they take and develop X-rays of your teeth and conduct a preliminary exam to check for signs of gum disease and other oral problems.

If it’s part of your appointment, this hygienist can also conduct a professional teeth cleaning. This includes scraping calculus and plaque off of the teeth, perhaps even applying fluoride or sealants. All of this work that dental hygienist has done, may occur before the dentist even walks into the room with you.

Thanks to all of the preparatory work that the hygienist did with you, while the dentist was in the other room, the doctor can go straight to work on other procedures. It really streamlines the process of a dental visit and maximizes what you can get out of one visit. Can you imagine if the dentist had to help with all the prep tasks, such as taking X-rays and blood pressure? Thanks to the hard work of multiple dental hygienists, dentists are able to see two to three times as many patients every day.

Without dental hygienists, patients would have to go on a lengthy waiting list just get a much-needed appointment!

Call Us for Your Next Appointment

If you need braces or Invisalign, or if your dentist has referred you for other orthodontics treatment, contact Melbourne Orthodontics. We have two convenient locations in Melbourne and Indian Harbour Beach.