What Tools Do Hygienists Use?
When you go to the dentist, you probably get your teeth cleaned by a hygienist. It is the hygienist’s job to clean your teeth. She has a set of special tools to do this. Many people want to know, what tools do hygienists use?
What is a Dental Hygienist?
A dental hygienist works with the dentist to care for your oral health. All dental hygienists must be licensed. To become licensed they must graduate from a college dental hygiene program. They then must pass a national board examination and a state clinical examination. It takes 2-4 years to become a licensed dental hygienist, depending on the type of degree.
Hygienists are responsible for preventative care, meaning teeth cleanings and x-rays. They differ from dental assistants in that assistants can only work under direct supervision by a dentist, while a dental hygienist mostly works independently.
What do Dental Hygienists Do?
Hygienists are important to a dental office because she performs most, if not all of the teeth cleanings, so the dentist will have time to do more complicated procedures. Each state has specific guidelines that allow dental hygienists to perform different duties. However, most dental hygienists have the following job duties:
- Taking and developing dental x-rays
- Teeth cleaning (prophylaxis)
- Applying fluoride to the teeth
- Removing calculus and plaque from the teeth
- Counseling patients on oral hygiene strategies
- Patient screenings – oral health assessment, oral cancer screening, head and neck inspection
- Taking impressions for study models
In some states, dental hygienists are allowed to do a wider range of services when under the direct supervision of a licensed dentist. That includes sealants, local anesthesia, nitrous oxide, placing and removing sutures, and topical anesthesia.
What Tools Do Hygienists Use?
Dental hygienists use special tools to clean their patient’s teeth. The following are the tools hygienists most commonly use.
A hygienist uses a mirror, probe, scaler, curette, prophy cup, and suction.
The mirror is the easiest tool to identify because well, it looks like a small, rounded mirror. Mirrors are used by both hygienists and dentists to look at your teeth from all angles.
A periodontal probe looks like a hook and has a thin, sharp end. Some probes have lines on them used for measurement. Periodontal probes are used to measure pocket depths around the tooth. This is done to establish the health of the tissue surrounding the tooth.
Like the probe, a scaler has a pointed end, but the shape of the instrument is a little different. Scalers are used to scrape plaque and tartar off of the teeth.
A curette is a double ended tool that is used to scrape calculus. Calculus is a hard tartar deposit that is often at the base of the tooth. There are 2 types of curettes. Universal curettes have sharp edges on both sides of the instrument, while Gacey curettes have a sharp edge on one side.
A prophy cup is a small, motorized rubber cup. It is used to polish teeth. Polishing teeth is done to smooth the surface, as well as remove external stains. Prophy paste, an abrasive paste is often used with the prophy cup.
The suction is a plastic tube that is placed into the patient’s mouth to remove water and saliva.
A dental hygienist is responsible for your teeth cleaning and x-rays. She uses special tools to clean your teeth. These tools are a mirror, probe, scaler, curette, prophy cup, and suction.