Dental Hygiene – Scope of Practice

A dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional, registered with a regulatory body within their country of practice (in this case North Carolina Board of Dentistry). They are primary healthcare professionals who work alongside a dentist and other dental professionals to provide full oral health care. A dental hygienist has received training and education that focuses on and specializes in the prevention and treatment of oral diseases. 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, prophylaxis, examinations, take intraoral radiographs, apply dental sealants, administer fluoride, and provide patient specific oral hygiene instruction.

A dental hygienist can choose to work in a range of dental settings from private practice, and specialty practice to the public sector. Other areas that relate to dentistry that dental hygienists can be involved in include research, professional education, community health, military dentistry and marketing and sales.