A dental hygienist is a licensed dental professional who plays an important part in maintaining your oral health. In most cases, the dental hygienist is the person who is doing your teeth cleaning. They also perform other duties such as administering local anesthesia, charting patients’ dental conditions, making molds of patients’ teeth, and more. For all of these tasks, they require special tools, as is usually the case in any specialized profession. Let’s take a look at what tools a dental hygienist needs to do their job effectively.
Dental hygienists utilize a variety of hand tools to maintain good oral care for a patient. If you’ve ever tried to locate a source of pain or irritation towards the back of your mouth, you know how difficult it can be to see it clearly. Dental hygienists have the use of hand-held mirrors which can be angled and rotated easily in order to peer into the hard-to-see nooks and crannies of the mouth to look for tartar deposits or signs of decay. Soft deposits of tartar are removed using hand scalers, hook-shaped instruments with pointed tips, and curettes, which are similar to hand scalers, but have rounded ends and are used to clear away tartar deposits underneath the gums.
Like hand scalers, ultrasonic scalers are used to clear away plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth. The big difference is that they are powered by pneumatic turbines and vibrate to break down plaque and tartar. This cuts down on the amount of effort required to clean teeth and often provides a deeper clean than do hand cleaners. They also provide a gentler treatment, offering a good alternative for patients who are anxious about visiting the dentist.
Used once the teeth have been thoroughly cleaned with the hand tools, polishers are slow-speed rotary tools that buff away uneven areas on teeth and leave the surface smooth and even, causing them to look bright and shiny.
Dental problems can’t always be seen with the naked eye as they can occur deep within the teeth, below the surface that we see. Dental hygienists use x-rays to check for cavities and other signs of damage and decay and, in general, to get a good overall view of patients’ oral health.
Syringes are used to administer local anesthetics. This might be necessary for patients who are undergoing a deep cleaning, where excessive tartar buildup or advanced cases of periodontal disease require a more thorough cleaning. This procedure can cause pain and bleeding, so it’s helpful to first numb the area. Local anesthetics may also be used to treat patients with a low tolerance for pain.