May 10, 2020

What’s it like being an oral health crusader a.k.a. dental hygienist?

October 29, 2020

by Miss Suzie Zerafa, Hygienist

Oral Health & Dental Hygienist Even though dental hygienists have been around for a while now, I still find some people are not sure about what we do and why they should see us.  The Dental Hygienists Association of Australia (DHAA) describes our role as follows:

”A dental hygienist is a registered dental professional who focuses in preventive oral health.  They are involved in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating preventive oral procedures, based on each individual patient’s particular needs.  They work together with dentists to provide the best possible care for your mouth, teeth and gums.  It is a fully integrated dental care approach.”

Hygienists play an important role in oral health by providing individualised oral hygiene care and treatment to prevent dental disease of the teeth and gums, and help improve a person’s general health and well being.

It is my job to plan treatment for my patients, evaluate their oral health and, of course, thoroughly clean their teeth and gums.  It is also my job to EDUCATE my patients and my treatment places a strong emphasis on this.  Educating my patients is what I love to do and what makes my work so satisfying.  Knowing that dental disease is preventable, and knowing that my treatment and advice can be instrumental in this endeavour, gives me a hugely rewarding responsibility to my patients and to my profession.

I will spend as much time as is required with each patient to work out what is working for them, what can be improved and what their individual needs are.  My motto is “everyone is different” and my patients are exactly that – some are good at flossing but not so great at brushing, and vice versa.  Some are just average at both.  I see some patients every 3 months in the surgery and others, every 6, 9 or even 12 months, depending on how good or bad their oral hygiene is.  It has become almost a motivational tool with my patients that the better and more improved their oral hygiene becomes, the less they are seen in the surgery, and they fully understand this.

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Dental disease occurs at any age, therefore everyone can benefit from the treatment and advice of a dental hygienist.  Of course, different age groups require different methods of education and consideration, and even different tools to help with their cleaning.  Older people are more likely to be on various medications which may cause complications with their oral hygiene and may require education in regards to this.  Teenagers who have busy lifestyles and don’t feel the need to brush and floss as much as required, need different motivation again.  It would be easy for me to hand a patient a toothbrush and say “Okay, off you go now.  Brush away and don’t forget to floss as well.”  This reality is very different for everyone and it is my job to understand these differences and give my patients the most up-to-date advice that will ensure they maintain optimal oral health.

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In order to do my job properly, I need to get to know my patients individually and spend time educating them based on their particular requirements.  I always look forward to seeing my patients and having a good chat about what is going on in their lives/mouth (the two are quite related).

I am fully committed to winning the oral hygiene battle in my surgery and I am well-armed !


Previously, we spoke about tooth erosion and how a lot of common drinks can destroy your tooth enamel.

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