What is a Dental Hygienist?

What is a Dental Hygienist?

Frequently asked questions about dental hygienists?

  1. What are dental hygienists?
  2. What can dental hygienists do?
  3. Why would I see a dental hygienist?
  4. When would I still need to see a dentist?



1. What are Dental Hygienists?

A Dental Hygienist is a qualified dental professional who has undergone specific training to achieve a university degree, or equivalent, in Dental Hygiene.

The role of a dental hygienist is to maintain and promote good oral hygiene practices by using preventative methods (cleaning, instructions, and advice). A Dental Hygienist works under the prescription and supervision of a dentist. They can undertake lots of extra courses to expand their scope of what procedures they can perform.

Dental Hygienists can work in a variety of settings. They can work in a General Dental Practice or in a Specialist Periodontal Practice, which focuses on patients with gum disease.

A Dental Hygienist is a key member of the dental team, as preventing dental problems from starting is always better than tackling the problems after they have occurred.

All dental health professionals work together in a way that is focused on each patients’ best interests.

2. What can Dental Hygienists do?

A Dental Hygienist is qualified to undertake multiple procedures under the prescription of a Dentist, some of these include:

  • Giving patient advice on oral health and smoking
  • General cleaning (scaling and polishing) of teeth
  • Deep cleaning for gum disease
  • Gum disease measurements
  • Take X-Rays
  • Take intraoral and extraoral photographs
  • Administer local anaesthetics
  • Apply Fluoride
  • Refer to other healthcare professionals
  • Oral cancer screening

With further training, Dental Hygienists can:

  • Carry out a clinical examination
  • Teeth whitening


3. Why would I see a Dental Hygienist?

Dental Hygienists often have longer appointment times than Dentists. 

This allows the dental hygienists to talk through and explain each patients’ treatment plan, current oral health levels and how to improve and maintain excellent oral health, to ensure their teeth last as long as possible. 

Dental Hygienists provide detailed oral hygiene instructions which include tooth brushing instructions, advice on which toothbrush to use, flossing and interdental cleaning instructions. 

A Dental Hygienist scale and polish often involves using multiple electronic and hand instruments, to clean the tooth above and below the gums. This is usually a more thorough clean than a General Dentist clean.

Dental Hygienists perform procedures prescribed by your Dentist, which allows Dentists to have more time for patients with emergencies and procedures which Dental Hygienists cannot carry out.

4. When would I need to see a Dentist?

You would still need to see a Dentists for multiple dental procedures, including:

  • Clinical examinations
  • Medical history
  • Fillings
  • Crowns, Bridges, Veneers
  • Implants
  • Root Canal Treatments
  • Extractions
  • Dentures
  • Oral Appliances (mouthguards, retainers, night-guards)
  • Diagnosis of Disease
  • Prescriptions
  • Interpreting X-Rays
  • Creating individual treatment plans


If you would like more information about how Dental Hygienists can improve your oral health or if you would like to book an appointment with one of our Hygienists, why not give us a call on 01772 335207 or fill out the contact form and we will be in touch.

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