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Dental Hygienist » Learn More

Dental hygienists are highly skilled and enjoy working with people indoors on a regular basis. They have a high level of personal hygiene and grooming and an understanding of how to maintain good oral health and of dental, orthodontic and periodontal procedures.


Dental Hygienists may do some or all of the following

  • Assess and provisionally diagnose periodontal disease (gum disease)
  • Record the medical history of patients
  • Examine the mouth, teeth, gums and jaw
  • Take and develop x-rays (if they are registered to do so)
  • Test saliva for signs of tooth decay
  • Recognise and treat periodontal diseases, which involves removing hard and soft deposits such as calculus, stains and plaque from the teeth
  • Provide preventive care for tooth decay
  • Develop care plans for patients
  • Educate patients on the condition of their mouths and how to improve and maintain their oral health
  • Make mouthguards for sport and/or stents (a small plastic tray held over teeth to hold in bleach) for home bleaching
  • Whiten teeth
  • Maintain orthodontic appliances for patients
  • Teach and/or carry out research
  • Refer patients to dentists or specialists.

Dental Hygienists need to have

  • The ability to assess oral health
  • Good people and communication skills to explain complex information to patients
  • Decision-making skills
  • The ability to assess whether to refer a patient to a dentist or a periodontist
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organisational skills.

Dental Hygienists need to be

  • Encouraging
  • Caring and sensitive of patients who are in pain or distress
  • Aware and understanding of the needs of people from other cultures and backgrounds
  • Positive and optimistic
  • Willing to listen
  • Able to follow direction
  • Health and safety conscious
  • Well-groomed with good personal hygiene
  • Reasonably fit and healthy with good posture for standing for long periods of time

Dental Hygienists need knowledge of

  • The structure and function of the teeth, jaw and mouth
  • The processes and stages of gum disease and oral health problems
  • How to treat gum disease and oral health problems
  • A range of oral health care procedures