A dental hygienist is a highly trained and licensed oral health professional who provides you with educational, clinical, and therapeutic services to enhance your oral and overall health. A dental hygienist uses her skills and knowledge to prevent, detect, and treat gum disease and tooth decay in her patients.

Hygienists receive intensive, specialized education and training that includes courses in chemistry, head and neck anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, microbiology, pathology, nutrition, pharmacology, advanced dental sciences, and dental hygiene. Prior to graduation, hygienists must complete hundreds of hours of supervised instruction in clinical practice.

Hygienists help prevent gum disease The hygienist will thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth, removing plaque, tartar, and stains from above and below your gum line (the point where your teeth meet your gums). She will evaluate the health of your gums, and she may be involved with the specialized treatment of advanced gum disease, which includes procedures such as scaling and root planing. Your hygienist will also teach you how to effectively care for your teeth at home to help you prevent decay and periodontal disease.

The hygienist may take and develop dental x-rays so the dentist can view them and quickly diagnose any problems. Your hygienist may also explain the relationship between your diet and dental health, offering suggestions about which foods to select and which to avoid. She may apply fluoride gels, show you how to select the proper toothbrush, and demonstrate the most effective techniques for brushing and flossing to help you maintain excellent oral hygiene.