When it comes to our teeth, many of us would ideally do all we can to ensure that our teeth and gums remain as healthy as possible. A toothache is an extremely painful condition which can cause a great deal of discomfort and distress. Visiting the dentist or even the prospect of visiting the dentist is something that most people in the world fear. By contrast, the word ‘hygienist’ has a far less sinister ring to it. In fact, many people, initially traumatized by the idea of visiting their dentist, are far happier to visit their dental hygienist and are finding the experience far less traumatic than they would have at first initially thought. Most people don’t realize this, but dentists and dental hygienists have different roles and provide different treatments. The dentist and the dental hygienist usually work together but there are some key differences. One of the major differences between a dentist and a dental hygienist is their education. Dentists provide skilled treatment whereas dental hygienists provide general tooth care. Since dentists are actual doctors, they are paid more than dental hygienists for obvious reasons.
Dentists and dental hygienists
Dentists and dental hygienists are quite different from one another and have very different roles and responsibilities. Dentists tend to study for longer periods of time than dental hygienists because their roles are far more encompassing. They are ‘doctors of the teeth’ and as such, they are the equivalent of our GP, legally able to write out prescriptions, perform surgical procedures such as injections, and administer local anesthetics before giving fillings and root canal treatments etc. Dental hygienists study for a shorter duration of time as they provide more specifically targeted services based upon hygiene of the mouth, teeth, and the underlying structures – ie, the teeth just below the gum line. Depending on the level of their qualification and experience, your hygienist will perform whitening services, provide deep cleaning techniques, do sealants, and some are also licensed to carry out injections. They are not legal doctors and work under the supervision of dentists. Their jobs are no less meaningful and relevant than the dentist. A good dentist and hygienist will work together in tandem to make their practice a more effective, safe, and efficient place for their clientele – ie, you.
- A Dental Hygienist is also a registered primary health care professional who provides highly skilled preventive services for all age groups without removing teeth.
As a clinician, they work in collaboration with a dentist to determine therapeutic treatment for each individual patient but work independently to deliver dental services. They work within a team environment to assure best practice in providing safe and appropriate dental health care.
Within the orthodontic field, dental hygienists provide patients with information relating to the care and maintenance of their teeth with fixed and/or removable appliances. They also:
- Take impressions for orthodontic purposes,
- Remove brackets, bands, archwires, modules, ligature wire, power chain and thread, coil springs, elastic, separating elastics,
- Place and fix archwires,
- Select and prepare bands for cementation,
- Re-cement loose bands,
- Remove orthodontic cement and materials after band and bracket removal.