The Role of the Dental Hygienist

The Role of the Dental Hygienist

The dental hygienist is an integral part of the dental team. Upon completion of extensive scientific studies, and after passing practical and written examinations set by the Ministry of Health and by their individual schools, dental hygienists are entitled toreceive their license and practice. Dental hygienists are uniquely qualifiedin the preventionof oral diseases, focusing ondental decay (caries) and periodontal diseases. Dental hygiene is a natural expression of the adage "prevention is better than cure". The roles of the dental hygienist in the clinic and in the community are manifold, and are primarily centered around oral health education and carrying out procedures to maintain oral health and to prevent disease

The role of the dental hygienist in the community is vital, and includes motivating and encouraging individuals and groups in oral health practices to improve oral hygiene, nutrition and general wellbeing and health. The profession can be as varied as conducting education programs in schools, kindergartens, baby clinics, retirement homes, community centers, local councils and centers for physically or mentally challenged individuals, as well as on a one-to one basis, within the dental practice

In the clinical setting the dental hygienist is an integral part of the dental team performing clinical procedures, monitoring oral health and developing home care plans

Procedures the dental hygienist may perform in the clinic


  • Reviewing the patient's medical history
  • Comprehensive intra and extra oral examination
  • Checking and charting findings of the teeth andgums
  • Dietary counseling for caries prevention
  • Assist in counselling for smoking cessation
  • Preventive management of caries, periodontal disease and tooth wear
  • Dental radiographs
  • Treatment and prevention of periodontal (gum) disease by removal of supra gingival and sub gingival deposits, through scaling and root planing
  • Prophylaxis - polishing teeth andremoving extrinsic stains
  • Application, by spreading topicalanestheticwhere necessary, to alleviate sensitivity during treatment
  • Application of prophylactic and antimicrobial agents, to assist in the promotion of tissue healing
  • Application of desensitizing agents
  • Assistance in the prevention of dental decay by applying fissure sealants and topical fluorides
  • Polishing of restorations fillings
  • Taking impressions for study models
  • Removing sutures and dressings after periodontal surgery
  • Oral hygiene instruction for a daily regime in order to maintain oral health


Why is daily routine so important?

The daily removal of bacterial plaque has been proven to assist in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease. This is attained by correct tooth brushing, as instructed by the dental hygienist, with a suitable brush and toothpaste, use of dental floss, dental toothpicks, and other oral hygiene aids. With correct removal of bacteria on a day to day basis, and regular visits to the dental hygienist, most common oral diseases such as dental caries (cavities), gum disease, bleeding gums, bad breath can be prevented resulting in less extensive, costly treatment

Why is it important to visit the Dental Hygienist regularly?

Treatment by a hygienist is a prerequisite to a routine examination of the oral cavity 
Regular visits to the dental hygienist are a prerequisite to good oral and general health The hygienist helps maintain and monitor oral health

The most important benefit of the hygienists intra and extra oral examination is the possibility of early detection of lesions and other diseases, which if left undetected and untreated may be life threatening