Dental hygienist vs dentist. What’s the difference?


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Oral Hygiene and Dental Therapy
BOH (Melb)

At Smile Solutions you will often find your dental needs being managed by more than one dental professional. This is because each of the practitioners you see is likely to have their own area of expertise. In seeing different practitioners, you are receiving the highest level of care, working towards the goal of achieving optimal oral health. 

The majority of our general dental patients have their oral care managed by both a dental hygienist and a dentist. 

The hygienist is considered an autonomous dental practitioner. They are able to make decisions and devise a treatment plan for the patient within their scope of practice. They are, however, required to have a referral and consultative relationship with a general dentist at the very least. 

The dentist is the primary dental care provider. They are responsible for the patient’s oral health. In a way, they are also a treatment coordinator; they coordinate appointments with a hygienist and also with dental specialists if required.

An appointment with a dental hygienist will typically involve a combination of the following:

dental hygienist

  • assessment and diagnosis of any concerns with the gums
  • assessment of the soft tissues in general
  • a screening of the teeth to identify for the dentist if there are any concerns (the hygienist would not be the decision-maker in this instance; their role would merely be to identify and notify the dentist of any potential concerns)
  • treatment planning for the management of periodontal (gum) disease
  • updating radiographs
  • provision of extensive oral hygiene instruction, especially how to manage dental hygiene at home.

Just as dentists, specialists and support staff are essential to a good relationship between patient and dental practice, the dental hygienist plays a very important role in patients’ oral hygiene and oral wellbeing. At Smile Solutions we have a great team of dental hygienists who will help look after your oral hygiene. 

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*The contents of this blog post are of a general nature only and may not apply to your specific circumstances. As every person is different we always recommend that you visit a qualified dental practitioner to obtain tailored dental advice to suit your own specific needs.

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