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How to become a dental hygienist

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The role of a dental hygienist is to educate patients on how to maintain good oral health. Also known as ‘oral health practitioners,’ dental hygienists typically concentrate on preventative oral health care. Dental hygienists usually work for a dentist in a general dental practice and can also be found in hospitals and community dental health services. A hospital based dental hygienist would help patients having surgery or complicated orthodontic treatment.

Responsibilities

The dental hygienist is responsible for assessing and monitoring his or her patient, drawing up a treatment plan, implementing the plan and evaluating the effectiveness of the treatment plan. It goes without saying that excellent communication skills are an essential part of the job.

Day to day duties

On a typical day to day basis dental hygienist perform the following duties:

  • Demonstrate cleaning techniques
  • Provide advice about the effects of diet
  • Scale and polish the teeth
  • Remove plaque
  • Take radiographs and impressions
  • Apply fluoride and fissure sealants
  • Administer local anaesthetic

Entry Requirements

To become a dental hygienist you will need at least 5 GCSE’S Grade A-C, 2 A-Levels or a recognised dental nursing qualification. You will also need to take an appropriate course with the General Dental Council (GDC) which usually last up to two years. Courses typically include:

  • Foundation degree in Oral Health Science
  • Diploma in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy
  • BSc in Oral Health Science or Dental Therapy and Dental Hygiene

Skills of a good dental hygienist

1) Excellent communication skills in order to explain treatment plans to the patient

2) Care for the wellbeing of patients

3) Ability to work in a team

4) Sympathetic and understanding

5) Able to concentrate for long periods of time

6) An interest in science, anatomy and physiology

7) Can put patients at ease

8) Able to motivate patients to maintain good levels of oral hygiene

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