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Training and development
Once you are on an approved training programme, you will spend time on clinical work placements, and at college or university studying subjects such as:
- anatomy and physiology
- preventive dentistry
- diet and nutrition
- dental health promotion
- dental radiography.
When you have completed the diploma or degree, you will need to register with the General Dental Council (GDC). See the GDC website for details.
- General Dental Council
You will need to keep your skills up to date throughout your career and complete around 150 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) activity every five years. You can do this in a number of ways, for example by going to conferences, courses, workshops and meetings. See the British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT) for further details.
- British Society of Dental Hygiene and Therapy
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a dental hygienist, you should have:
- an interest and ability in science, anatomy and physiology
- the ability to motivate clients to improve their dental hygiene
- excellent communication skills to explain treatments and put patients at ease
- the confidence to handle equipment
- good eyesight and steady hands for carrying out precision work
- the ability to concentrate for long periods
- good teamwork skills.
Dental hygienists are part of the healthcare system that nearly all people use but really no one talks much about them. As you can guess from their name, they are responsible for helping you take care of your teeth. Actually, the people doing the hands-on work like helping to cure dental diseases and treating cavities, that’s what a dental surgeon or a dentist is responsible for, dental hygienists mostly give people information and advice about how to maintain the health of their teeth.
There are many things that a dental hygienist is responsible for. Let’s take a look at what they typically do.
1) A dental hygienist’s main responsibility is to help their patients take care of their teeth in the right way. They can give you advice about how to take care of your gums and teeth. So in general they give pointers and advice on how to maintain your dental hygiene. If you’re having a problem they can also give you very exact advice about how to handle the situation. As an example, they could give you advice about which kind of toothpaste would be best for you for a particular dental problem, or just to keep your teeth as healthy as possible.
2) They can also give you tips on the proper techniques for brushing and flossing. Believe it or not many people have never flossed their teeth, a dental hygienist could show you the proper way to do this.
3) Dental hygienists are very important when it comes to children. They will keep in regular contact, doing many checkups over the years to help prevent any problems. They show children the correct way to floss and brush their teeth, what kind of toothpaste is the best for their particular situation, and many other things. The dental hygienist is the person involved in the dental cleaning sessions, so the children will feel very comfortable with them.
4) If all you’re looking for is a simple tooth cleaning, then your best bet is to go to a dental hygienist. This person can remove the deposits that have built up on your teeth and return them to pristine shape. Being that everyone has to see a dental hygienist every year, business is very good.
5) Dental hygienists will also give you advice about problems they find during routine teeth cleanings. This might be a tooth that’s got a small chip or a possible cavity in the making. There are many treatments available for these conditions, and there are lots of ways that you can treat these types of problems before they get worse.
So that pretty much sums it up, a dental hygienist is much more than what you might have thought. They not only clean teeth, but they can also help you prevent oral problems before they happen.