Every October, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and Colgate sponsor a month-long celebration for dental hygienists around the country. Dental hygienists are crucial members of your family’s healthcare team and are responsible for keeping patients’ mouths (and bodies) healthy. This year, the theme for National Dental Hygiene Month is Faces of Courage, and rightfully so. Join your pediatric dentist in Long Island as we celebrate our dental hygienists by sharing just what they do, and promoting how you can become one yourself.
Duties of a Dental Hygienist
Your child’s dental hygienist plays a key role in helping her mouth stay healthy and cavity and disease-free. They’re also often the first line of defense – as well as the first person you and your child will meet with when you visit your pediatric dentist in Long Island. Dental hygienists are responsible for many aspects of your child’s oral health including:
1) Cleaning Teeth – Let’s talk about the most obvious responsibility of a dental hygienist — cleaning teeth. Now, even though your child may brush and floss every day, the cleaning she gets from her hygienist is different than the one she gets at home. Hygienists are trained to gently remove plaque and tartar buildup that a regular brushing won’t touch, which not only gives your child a super-clean feel, plus her teeth are also super-protected.
2) Learning About Your Health – But as we’ve mentioned before, your dental hygienist does so much more than clean teeth. One of those additional duties is learning and getting to know each and every patient on a personal level. This means your hygienist will often talk with you about your child’s oral health and overall health history, discuss concerns you may have, and review medications or ailments. Doing so allows them to know you and your child better, and to provide better treatment every time you visit your pediatric dentist in Long Island.
3) Educating Patients – Our dental hygienists are passionate about teeth and kids and are committed to doing everything they can to help patients stay healthy. They’re always quick to offer up brushing and flossing tips and can even guide you on what products to use.
4) Focusing on Prevention – There’s a good reason we recommend a dental cleaning every six months — to prevent problems from happening in the first place. To do this, your hygienist will often apply fluoride or sealants to protect teeth from the damaging effects of acids and bacteria. This is especially important for children’s growing grins.
Keep in mind, different states and different regions have different rules, so some of these responsibilities can change from area to area and office to office.
How Many Years Does it Take to Become a Dental Hygienist?
Depending on the program and degree level, it takes anywhere between 2-4 years to become a dental hygienist. Dental hygienists must complete at least two years of schooling at a community college, technical school, or university. Usually, a hygienist will earn an associate’s degree, but higher-level degrees are also available. After earning a diploma, hygienists are then required to take a state, local, or regional licensing test before they can practice in a dental office.
Now that you know a little bit more about all of the things dental hygienists do to keep your child healthy, make sure you thank them the next time you visit your pediatric dentist in Long Island.