What is a dental hygienist and what do they do?

A woman in a lab coat and mask looking at an x-ray slide

Read time: 2 mins

As you know, a clean mouth is a healthy one – good oral hygiene is essential if you want to protect yourself from gum disease, tooth decay or other painful dental problems. Dental hygienists play a vital role in the dental team providing preventative care. As specialists in dental hygiene, hygienists are probably the best people to go to when you want advice about your oral cleanliness.

What will your dental hygiene appointment involve?

After a comprehensive assessment of your gum health and oral hygiene status, our hygienist will use modern ultrasound to loosen calculus, plaque and stains from your teeth and the spaces between them. Once the loosened material is removed, our hygienist Jennifer will carry out a cosmetic polish using specially formulated prophylaxis paste to make the teeth smooth and remove any remnants of stains on the teeth. She will then apply topical fluoride to ensure the newly ‘exposed’ areas of tooth are hardened up and resistant to sensitivity, decay and acidic erosion.

What will you leave with?

  • A hygiene pack with some of your home oral hygiene essentials
  • A review on proper brushing and flossing technique
  • Advice on the appropriate brushes or products to optimise your home routine
  • Additionally, certain patients require unique advice. For example, someone with a history of gum disease might need a special brush to accommodate for their sensitivity. Or if you have implants or bridges advice can be given to help keep these in good health for the long run.

Other common procedures hygienists can perform include:

  • Administering local anaesthetic prior to a more complex dental procedure or if you have sensitive teeth or gums when having your teeth professionally cleaned
  • Applying tooth whitening agents
  • Taking dental X-rays and photos
  • Stabilising teeth affected by severe gum disease and monitoring periodontal (gum) disease progression
  • Advice on denture care, dry mouth or tooth sensitivity

Why doesn’t the dentist do this work?

Until recently we haven’t had the facilities available to accommodate a hygienist and hence our talented dentists have been carrying out these procedures. However, it has always been our goal to get a specially trained hygienist on board to spend more time with you and help prevent dental disease progressing. Think of them as specialist at carry out scaling and polishing. They are also experts at teaching you how to look after your teeth and gums. Sometimes this can take a couple of appointments to get things on track and ready for our dentists manage your more complex dental issues.

In essence, the dental hygienist helps prevent dental disease and maintain health and the dentist restores existing dental disease, function and aesthetics.

Our dental hygienist, Jennifer, will be starting with the team in September, so please let us know if you would like to make an appointment to see our hygienist by calling Pennant Hills Dental Centre on 9484 1132 or book online.


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