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What is a dental hygienist?

A dental hygienist is a licensed oral health professional who works as part of a dental team to provide preventative and therapeutic care for patients. Dental hygienists typically work in dental offices or clinics and perform a range of duties related to oral health. In Utah and many other states, however, dental hygienists work in alternative settings, such as nursing homes, schools, and to home bound patients who have a hard time coming to a traditional dental office. Through this, dental hygienists are able to help increase access to care to all populations and communities in Utah, which in turn helps out states overall health.

Some of the key responsibilities of a dental hygienist include:

  • Conducting patient screenings and assessments, including taking medical histories and reviewing oral health histories

  • Cleaning teeth and removing plaque and tartar buildup using specialized tools and techniques

  • Educating patients on proper oral hygiene practices and providing guidance on ways to maintain good oral health

  • Administering fluoride treatments and applying sealants to protect teeth from decay

  • Performing oral cancer screenings and monitoring patients for signs of oral health problems

  • Collaborating with dentists and other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans for patients.

Dental hygienists complete at least a two-year degree program, but the majority have bachelor degrees and must also pass several licensing exams, from written to clinical, to practice. They work closely with dentists, doctors, and other health professionals to help patients achieve and maintain healthy teeth, gums, and overall bodies.

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