Getting to Know Your Dental Hygienist
When you visit our Gresham family dental office, Dr. Archibald is always there to examine the current state of your oral health and provide any treatment plan required to keep you looking and feeling your best. However, often you’ll see another face stay with you throughout the entire appointment, one who even completes your care by cleaning away plaque deposits. This person, of course, is your friendly dental hygienist.
While Dr. Archibald remains in charge of providing patients with the outstanding dental care they require, our team of gentle dental hygienists is the backbone of our Gresham family dental office.
Dental hygienists play a vital role in providing patients with the care they need to enjoy a healthy, great looking smile for a lifetime.
Let’s take a moment to celebrate the team of dental hygienists working alongside Dr. Archibald by looking at the indispensable role hygienists play around the dental office and what it takes to become a part of this exciting profession.
What Does a Hygienist Do?
In addition to cleaning a patient’s teeth, dental hygienists help Dr. Archibald examine patients for signs of dental disease, collect relevant patient medical history, assist in the taking of digital x-rays, and provide other types of preventative dental care.
Working as a dental hygienist requires a proficiency in the use of a variety of tools.
Hygienists clean a patient’s teeth using ultrasonic tools, powerful water picks, and, in some cases, lasers. They polish teeth with a power tool that’s similar to an electric toothbrush, but with far more power, and use x-ray equipment to take pictures of a patient’s jaw and teeth.
Dental hygienists must also master a number of different tasks. During just one day, a hygienist may need to:
- Remove tartar (calculus) and plaque (biofilm) and stains from a patient’s teeth
- Apply fluoride treatments or sealants to protect teeth from decay
- Take digital x-rays of a patient’s teeth and jaw to assess the presence of cavities, the integrity of fillings, and the health of the tooth supporting bone
- Document recommended patient care and treatment plans
- Assist Dr. Archibald in assessing a patient’s oral health, in particular the health of their gums
- Provide educational oral hygiene tips and advice to patients to improve their oral and general health
If you like performing a variety of tasks during their workday, enjoy working with the public, and have an interest in keeping the community healthy, a career as a dental hygienist may be right for you.
How to Become a Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists must complete years of study to find a career in the oral health industry.
Prospective dental hygienists must complete an associate’s degree level in dental hygiene that typically takes at least three years to complete.
These programs usually involve classroom, clinical, and laboratory instruction. Students will cover areas of study that will include anatomy, periodontics, medical ethics, and gum disease progression.
Once a student has completed their three-year course study, they may also need to get a bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene before their careers can begin.
All states require dental hygienists to be licensed. However, requirements vary by state, and could include the need for a higher degree of education to be completed before a license will be granted.
For students in high school interested in starting a career as a dental hygienist, taking classes in chemistry, biology, and math are highly recommended.
A Profession in Need
To tend to the oral health needs of their patients, dentists like Dr. Archibald depend on skilled dental hygienists.
A need for such a highly advanced and well educated workforce has made dental hygiene a growth industry. Employment of dental hygienists is projected to grow by 11 percent over the next decade, much faster the other areas of potential employment.
This makes dental hygienists an ideal career for anyone looking to work in a high paying position that offers job security.
At our Gresham family dental office, we certainly appreciate our team of dental hygienists. And after reading about all that members of our team do to help protect your oral health, we are sure that you do as well.