October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Today, we’re going to shine a spotlight on dental hygienists. We owe the success of our practice to them.
Dental hygienists are the nurses of the dental world. They’re widely underappreciated for the valuable work they perform. Dental Hygienists are integral players in helping treat and prevent oral health issues.
Hygienists perform a variety of challenging roles within a dental practice. They’re usually the primary communicators between dentists and patients. Because there are more hygienists in an office than dentists, it’s easier for hygienists to spend more time with patients.
Dental hygienists perform all of the initial screenings and oral health assessment. They’ll review your dental history, screen for oral cancer, check your head and neck, as well as review old dental charts. Hygienists are also responsible for performing dental x-rays, removing plaque, and using preventative treatments, like sealants and fluoride on teeth.
If you have any questions about your dental health practices, like if you’re flossing and brushing correctly, your hygienist will show you optimum strategies. They’re responsible for making impressions of teeth for dentists to later evaluate for treatment plans. Hygienists also counsel patients in proper nutrition for better oral health.
Being a dental hygienist extends far beyond knowing how to clean teeth. People who choose dental hygiene as a career path are incredibly dedicated to their trade and possess a variety of skill sets.
It’s not uncommon for hygienists to be incredibly creative, since they have to work with a diverse group of clients. Hygienists have to use their creative instincts to help children and anxious adults feel comfortable in the dental office. They also use creative intelligence in order to communicate with patients from all walks of life.
Much like nurses, hygienists help in documenting appointments and engage in other management activities to make the office run smoothly. They’re responsible for prioritizing their schedules, so that every patient gets the proper amount of effective treatment time.
A patient’s oral health gives insight into their overall health. Dental hygienists are on the front lines of the practice, and usually take care of the same patients for their 6 month checkups. This is why hygienists are often acutely attuned to the patient’s overall health and are able to see changes in a patient’s mouth over time.
For instance, lesions in the mouth could be a sign of HIV infection, while ulcers could be indicators of Crohn’s disease. Bleeding or pale gums are signs of blood disorders. Bone loss in the jaw is a symptom of bone diseases, like osteoporosis or arthritis. A woman’s gum health can even be an indication of pregnancy.
One of the primary signs of diabetes is gum disease. Bacteria in your mouth live off of sugar, so when a diabetic’s blood sugar is unregulated, gum disease can get out of control. At the same time, advanced gum disease can also lead to uncontrollable blood sugar levels.
By taking an extensive history of your gum health and asking about your history with blood sugar problems, a hygienist is able to detect diabetes in its earlier stages, before it gets out of control.
It’s important that you talk to your hygienist about any health concerns, so they can defend your gums against infection. For instance, telling your hygienist about infections like HPV could tip them off to look for signs of pre-cancer, before it develops into full-fledged oral cancer.
One of the roles of dental hygienists is to educate patients on the best diet for their oral and overall health. Diet is one of the biggest factors leading to dental decay.
A balanced diet helps the body fight other illnesses, like osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, as well as improves dental hygiene. One of the tricks to maintaining a good diet is by practicing portion control. Overeating can lead to obesity and over nutrition, which creates an inflammatory response in your entire body, including your mouth.
Not to mention, consuming too many simple carbohydrates and sugar is directly correlated to gum disease and dental decay.
Dental hygienists go through rigorous education. They are graduates from accredited dental hygiene education programs at the college or university level.
Usually, these programs take two immersive years to finish, leaving hygienists with an associate degree. However, dental hygienists can also attend university programs, to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in dental hygiene.
Students have to pass a written national board exam and a clinical exam, before they’re able to have a practicing license. This license ensure dental hygienists are skilled to administer dentistry to patients, as well as work as educators, researchers, and in administration.
The majority of oral health diseases can be stopped before they start. Oftentimes, dental hygienists are the central facilitators of disease prevention for patients.
At Tharp & Klaus Dental Clinic, we believe a well-functioning dentist’s office begins by hiring the best dental hygienists.
While brushing and flossing can defend your oral health at home, it’s important to make it to the dentist’s office every 6 months for a routine cleaning. Our dental hygienists will polish and floss your teeth, as well as administer fluoride rinse. Routine hygiene visits will give your teeth a deep cleaning that you can’t give yourself at home.
At Tharp & Klaus Dental Clinic, we have dental services for your entire family. Schedule an appointment with us online or call us at 601-939-4100 today.
Consult with Dr. Tharp & Dr. Klaus whether you need teeth cleaning, oral screening, or restorative dental care in Jackson, MS. You can trust our team to deliver quality dental services that will leave you with a smile on your face. We believe that each and every patient that walks through our door deserves a great smile, and we’ll work with you to find the treatments that fit your needs. During our consultations, you’ll be able to ask your questions one-on-one, get evaluated, and learn more about the ins and outs of your dental treatment.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today; you deserve a beautiful brilliant smile.