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Dental Hygiene Part 2: The Value of a Hygienist

We’ve already talked about some of the best practices in dental hygiene that you should be performing at home. Hats off to you if you're practicing good oral habits at home! But despite that, most people need to check in with a dentist periodically. That’s where your twice-yearly dental check-up comes in — and where we meet the other important partner in the hygiene effort – in the person of the dental hygienist.

What Is a Dental Hygienist?

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA), a dental hygienist is a “licensed oral health professional who focuses on preventing and treating oral diseases – both to protect teeth and gums, and also to protect patients’ total health.” While he or she is not a doctor, a dental hygienist still undergoes extensive technical training for the role. Generally (although standards may differ slightly from region to region), a hygienist must graduate from an accredited dental hygiene program and successfully pass examination by, and receive appropriate certification or licensure from, a particular state or region.

What Is a Dental Hygienist?

The services of a dental hygienist may also vary from state to state.

Certain core responsibilities are listed by the ADHA:

Oral health care assessment. This includes dental charting, oral cancer screening, evaluation of gum disease (or health), and a review of the patient’s health history. A good hygienist will report his or her findings to the dentist before the doctor sees the patient.

X-rays. Expose, process, and interpret dental radiographs.

Calculus removal. The hygienist removes tartar and plaque buildup, above and below the gum line, using appropriate dental instruments and procedures.

Cavity prevention. The hygienist applies agents such as fluorides and sealants to a patient’s teeth.

Administration of local anesthetic as required and as authorized by the dentist.

Education and counseling. Both dentists and hygienists will educate patients in the proper techniques of oral care, advise them on controlling plaque and establishing proper home hygiene procedures, and counsel them on the importance of proper nutrition for oral health (and the effects of bad nutrition on their teeth and gums).

Whitening procedures are frequently performed by the dental hygienist in many (if not most) dental practices. Another unspoken responsibility of the hygienist is to help free up the dentist’s time, so that the doctor has the flexibility and availability to work on the more complicated dental procedures, such as cavity fillings and bridge work.

Being a Good Patient

How can you help your hygienist give you the best service possible? Here are a few easy tips.

Show up on time for your appointment. Even better, show up 10 minutes early. Taking care of your paperwork and insurance before your actual appointment time helps everyone working in the dental office to stay on schedule and help as many patients as possible.

Brush and floss before your appointment. This seems like a no-brainer … and it is. do this little favor for them. Hygienists have to work in a lot of people’s mouths each day; it’s helpful if you do this little favor for them.

Point out any problems bothering you. Hiding information doesn’t help you when you’re sitting in the dentist chair. Some problems, like hairline tooth fractures, may not show up easily on x-rays — and the only way for the hygienist (and subsequently, the dentist) to know is for you to accurately describe what you’re feeling and sensing in your teeth and gums.

Contact Us Today to Set Up Your Appointment!

We accept most insurance plans. Our friendly staff is ready to answer any questions and to check your insurance coverage to resolve any issues. To save time on your dental visit, you can conveniently fill out patient paperwork ahead of time by using the links on our website. Because your dental health shouldn’t have to wait, Dentures Plus Lenexa partners with CareCredit and Wells Fargo Health Advantage® to offer our patients financing options. Contact information for financing can be accessed via our website .

Dentures Plus Lenexa looks forward to servicing your dental, denture, and implant needs! Whether you’re a new resident in Johnson County, seeking to get a dental problem fixed, or an existing patient who is experiencing an issue with dentures or implants, we’re here to help. Please stop into our office at 8630 Maurer Road in Lenexa or call us today at 913-227-0466. At Dentures Plus Lenexa, your health comes first – period. For the best dental, denture, and implant service in the Kansas City area, contact us today!

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