Dental hygienists assist dentists in treating patients. They use preventive, educational and therapeutic methods for the control of oral diseases to aid individual patients and groups in achieving and maintaining oral health. They are a registered dental care provider, oral health educator and clinical operator.
Dental hygienists are trained to do specific clinical procedures which aim to prevent dental disease. They should work under the supervision and prescription of a dentist.
Dental hygienists may perform the following tasks:
- Educate and counsel children and adults on dental health, plaque control, oral hygiene and nutrition;
- Remove deposits and stains from teeth by scaling and root planning;
- Assist in the prevention and control of dental caries (decay) and gum disease;
- Select and use appropriate fluoride treatments and polish tooth restorations;
- Expose and process dental x-rays;
- Make impressions of patients’ mouths for the construction of study casts and mouthguards;
- Select and size orthodontic bands (braces), and remove orthodontic appliances;
- Apply and remove periodontal packs; and
Instruct patients on how to look after teeth and mouth after operations.
- Able to work as part of a team
- Able to perform precise accurate work
- Good communication and interpersonal skills
Interest in health care work
Dental hygienists should work under the supervision and prescription of a dentist. They work in private practices, community health centres, dental hospitals and regional clinics. Qualified dental hygienists should not experience difficulty in finding employment.
To practise as a dental hygienist, graduates must be registered with the Dental Practice Board of the State or Territory in which they intend to work.