Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, most commonly, dental cavities, gingivitis, periodontal (gum) diseases and bad breath. There are also oral pathologic conditions in which good oral hygiene is required for healing and regeneration of the oral tissues.
A dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional, registered with a dental association, or regulatory body within their country of practice.
They are a primary healthcare professional who works to provide full oral health care. They have the training and education that focus and specialize in the prevention and treatment of oral disease. Dental hygienists have a specific scope of clinical procedures they provide to their patients. They assess a patient’s condition in order to offer patient-specific preventative and educational services to promote and maintain good oral health. The use of therapeutic methods assists their patients in controlling oral disease, while providing tailored treatment plans that emphasize the importance of behavioral changes.
The major role of a dental hygienist is to perform periodontal therapy which includes things such periodontal charting, periodontal debridement, and prophylaxis for patients with periodontal disease as well as prophylaxis for patients with “healthy” mouths. In addition dental hygienists are able to perform examinations, make diagnosis, take intraoral radiographs, dental sealants, administer fluoride, and provide patient specific oral hygiene instruction. They are also able to work at an orthodontic clinic and can perform many tasks there such as selecting and sizing of orthodontic bands for dental braces, the removal of orthodontic appliances, and are able to make dental impressions for the construction of study casts and mouthguards.