Saturday, February 6, 2016

Good Health Starts with Clean Teeth

Keeping oneself in good health is no easy task, especially given all of the health risks that come with the trappings of daily modern life; sugary & unhealthy foods, polluted air and water, and high stress levels due to our non-stop lifestyles. With all of these factors, it can be challenging to keep up with regular doctor appointments, let alone making sure we see that one medical provider so many people secretly (or not so secretly) dread: the dentist. However, it is critical to ensure good oral health, as studies have shown that poor oral health can contribute to many severe, even life-threatening non-oral diseases. When most of us go to the dentist's office, we spend the majority of our time dealing not with the dentists themselves, but with their trusted "sidekicks", the dental hygienists.

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral diseases like gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care. They also help educate patients on ways to improve and maintain good oral health, such as instructing on proper brushing and flossing methods. Hygienists are the first line of defense in the fight against oral diseases, and dentists rely on them to spot abnormalities or issues during regular teeth cleanings so that the dentists can focus on dealing with these more severe cases.
Dental hygiene is a career that needs significant training, requiring an associates' degree that usually takes 3 years to complete. Within these programs, prospective hygienists learn in the classroom, as well as in laboratory & clinical settings. As you may know from visiting any dentist's office, dental hygienists work with a wide variety of tools to do their job, including power & ultrasonic polishing tools used to clean teeth, air-polishing devices that use a combination of air, baking soda, and water to remove stains from teeth, and even occasionally lasers. Hygienists are tasked with explaining the links between diet and oral health to patients, as well as dispensing advice on selecting oral care devices like toothbrushes.

Dental hygienists require licenses in all 50 states, but these requirements vary by state. For most states, a degree in dental hygiene and passing scores on written & clinical exams is enough for licensure, but be sure to check with your state's licensing board for specific requirements. Most states also require hygienists to complete continuing education (CE) credits to maintain good standing. If you are interested in learning more about Dental Hygienists, take a look at our infographic below. Be sure to check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages all week long for more great content on this selfless healthcare profession!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.


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