Dental Hygienist and Dentist Functions and Classification

Dental Hygienist and Dentist Functions and Classification

Dental Hygienist and Dentist Functions and Classification; An oral hygienist or dental hygienist is an individual licensed in the dental profession and also permitted to register with the regulatory body responsible for regulating the activities of dentists in the country where the dentist is practising.  The registered dentist is expected to have either a Bachelor’s or an Associate Degree in dental hygiene before the individual even finishes writing and clinical board examinations. These degrees are expected to be obtained from an accredited university or college.

After their registration, the hygienist can be considered as a primary healthcare professional working as an independent service provider or together with a dentist and several other professionals in dental health care with the aim of providing complete oral health care services.  The education and training of the dental professional are specialized and focused on the treatment and prevention of several oral diseases.

Another name for a dentist is a dental surgeon. He is a special surgeon that focuses on dentistry, which comprises the diagnosis or detection, prevention, as well as, the treatment of various diseases that are associated with the oral cavity.  The dentist also works together with a supporting team that can include the following:

  • Dental therapists
  • Dental technicians
  • Dental hygienists
  • Dental assistants
  • Dental hygienist

The dental hygienist works directly under a licensed dentist.  He is also involved in training patients on how to observe dental hygiene. He equally administers therapeutic and preventive oral prophylaxis to the patient under the supervision of the licensed dentist.  Some of them may equally offer chairside dental assistance and they may be involved in giving local anesthetic agents or x-ray if they are thus licensed for such expanded fictions as these.

Dental Hygienist and Dentist Functions and Classification

Duties and responsibilities of the dental hygienist                     

  1. Oral prophylaxis. Typical task: They work under the supervision of a licensed dentist to remove stains, accretions, and calcerous deposits from the teeth. They scale off the tartar that has accumulated on the teeth and also focuses on the region above the gum using tools, like cleaning compound, rubber cap, and rotating brush. They equally carry out root curettage and planning, aside from carrying out fluoride treatments and polishing the surface of the tooth that is exposed using a polishing substance and rotating cap. The professionals are equally involved in applying topical desensitization and anesthetic agents.  They make preliminary extra- and intraoral examinations and they also chart the conditions of diseases and decay for easy diagnosis followed by treatment by a licensed dentist.  The professional equally play a role in the placing or removal of periodontal dressings, as well as, removal of rubber and dams and matrixes.
  2. Dental hygiene education. Typical tasks: demonstrate to and instruct the students or patients about the different cares to be given to specific age levels on teeth and mouth care. He equally promotes the interest of the patients in preventing all kinds of dental disease. Some of the employees are equally involved in teaching the teachers, institutional staff or dental students about the various techniques used for dental health and oral hygiene. He may offer technical assistance during the planning process of a dental health program via conference with superiors in the profession.
  3. Dental Assisting. Typical tasks: His works are supervised by a licensed dentist. He is expected to provide chairside dental assistance to the dentist, dental hygienist, dental students or dental technicians.  He is equally involved in preparing workstation, materials, and instruments.  He is expected to greet the patient and escort them to the work station. He is equally required to retract the patient’s tongue, cheek and any other part of the mouth that may stand in the way during dental operations.  He is required to provide assistance in the placing or removing of rubber accessories and dams that are used for placing and retaining following the direction of the dentist. Furthermore, his job decryption involves the removal of dirt and debris created during or after the operative process and accumulated over time.  He can use various tools for this purpose, like adhesives, amalgams, water, and mouthwashes. He is expected to apply topical fluoride, sterilize and then wrap instruments. His work involves wiping down and cleaning workstations between patients. He is required to place matrix retainers for composite and alloys restorations. He is also required to remove supragingival excess cement from the orthodontic appliances, bridges, and crowns using hand instruments. He is required also to polish amalgam restorations, as well as, make impressions following the direction of the licensed dentist.
  4. Administrative functions. Typical tasks: he is involved in scheduling and confirming appointments and recalls by patients. He is involved in pulling charts for patients and preparing daily schedules. He is equally required to check charts for any communicable disease and also intimate the dentist about same. He is also expected to make entries to the chart or the patient and also record outcomes of treatments procedures or clinical findings; he is supposed to carry this out under the supervision of a dentist. Some employees are allowed to assist with billing and account collection, process dental insurance forms, and prepare office and patient production statistics.



A dentist is expected to handle many of the dental treatments by the nature of his training. Examples of procedures a licensed dentist can handle are:

  • Prosthodontic
  • Orthodontics
  • Restorative procedure on bridges a crowns
  • Endodontic
  • Oral surgery
  • Periodontal therapy

He should also be able to carry out examinations using diagnoses and radiographs. A dentist can equally participate in oral surgical procedures, like dental implant placement.  A dentist can prescribe drugs, like sedatives, local anesthetics, painkillers, fluorides, and antibiotics.

Dentist responsibilities:

  • Discussing with patients about their dental problems. They also carry out preventive procedures and regular cleanings. they are equally involved in establishing a workable plan for better dental hygiene
  • Carry out dental procedures, like filling cavities, root canals and extractions.
  • Correcting overcrowding and bite issues.
  • Applying helpful treatment agents to the teeth like whiteners and sealants.
  • Prescribing drugs for various dental issues, like antibiotics or pain medications.
  • Administering anesthetics or sedatives to the patient before they start treatment.
  • They order diagnostic measures, like models, x-rays and so on.
  • They use tools, like mirrors, brushes, probes, or drills for examining the teeth and treating it
  • He keeps record about oral health
  • He manages and communicates with the other staff members so that they can provide consistent quality in their care to the patient.

Dentist requirements:

  • Doctorate of dental surgery or Dental Medicine
  • Malpractice insurance and state license
  • Additional experience, licensing or certifications may be required
  • Strong skills in the computer an adequate experience with healthcare applications and databases.
  • Willingness to agree with every federal, state and local laws
  • Very good verbal and written communication skills and the ability to retain things for long
  • Comprehensive knowledge of diagnostics, tools and dental procedures.
  • Good management skills


Difference between a dentist and dental hygienist

  • The level of education differs between the two. A dentist is a degree holder and has gone through 4 years at the dental school. A dental hygienist, on the other hand, only requires 2 years of training. They both must pass exams before they can be given license to work, depending on the state where they want to practice dentistry.
  • The dental hygienist is usually the first person of contact before you meet a dentist. The dental hygienist will take time to discuss with the patient about how to care for the teeth properly.  They help with the cleaning of the teeth and examining the gum for oral diseases and gingivitis. The dentist gets involved later for proper diagnosis, examination, and repair. He also prescribes drugs and carries out several procedures, like a dental crown and root canal filling for cavities.  The dentist has more expertise than the dental hygienist.
  • The pay also differs. A dentist is a doctor and gets paid more than a dental hygienist. The time they spend with the patient costs the patient more than that of a dental hygienist. It is better to consult a dental hygienist first before seeing a dentist.

The above are few of the main differences between the two professionals. Be that as it may, the two of them are well trained to care for the teeth. Never hesitate to consult a dentist in your area if your teeth or gum are giving you problems. Dentist cheltenham has proven very professional in his doings. The earlier you get your teeth treated by a dentist, the better.


Sources and references:

  1. Dental Hygienists’ Association of Australia Inc. (1999). A professional Body Addressing Training, Uniformity of Practice and Growth of the Dental Hygienist Profession. Retrieved from “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2014-05-18. Retrieved 2014-05-17.Print. Local dental regulations determine the scope of practice of dental hygienists respectively
  2.  “Be part of the change”Oral Cancer Foundation. Oral Cancer Foundation. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  3.  Australian Dental Association. “Dental Hygienist”. Australian Dental Association. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  4. “Dental Hygienist”. American Dental Association. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  5. Danner, V. “Looking back at 75 years of the Journal; former editors reflect on their time with the Journal”. Journal of Dental Hygiene. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  6. Michael Shipway & Associates; Dental Care Cheltenham,


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