Dental hygienists (oral hygienists) are concerned with the promotion of oral health and the prevention of dental disease. They remove stains and tartar from teeth and polish them. They apply decay-preventing agents to teeth, insert temporary fillings and take impressions and castings of study models. They give patients information about good home dental care and healthy nutritional practices.
Dental hygienists perform diagnostic tests for interpretation by the dentist, such as intra-oral and extra-oral X-rays. They assist dentists during dental operations.
Dental hygienists are professional health educators with their own consulting rooms, who work under the supervision of dentists in private practices, or for the Department of Health in hospitals, clinics or schools, where they may also teach in dental hygiene programmes.
Consulting rooms are usually modern, airy and well equipped. Part of the work is sometimes done in operating theatres. If a dental hygienist works for a government health department, the job may include a certain amount of travelling to surrounding schools and institutions.
- helping people to improve their health
- the opportunity to work part time
- having a defined area of expertise
- working on Saturdays
- working under pressure
- being limited in the scope of practice
- Private dental practices
- State health departments