A dental hygienist checks a litle girl's teeth

5 Common Myths About Dental Hygienists

The field of dental hygiene is hard to understand for bystanders. However, it takes a bit more reading to understand everything that dental hygienists do compared to what dentists do. For people concerned about teeth, they should know about five myths that affect dental hygienists.

  1. Dental Hygienists Are Dentists
    This myth is easily the most common one. Although dentists and dental hygienists have to attend school and learn about teeth, they have different training requirements. The salaries, types of duties, and levels of authority are different. Dental hygienists only need 2 years of schooling and a license to start practicing. Dental hygienists focus on preventing dental problems, while dentists focus on fixing dental problems. Dental hygienists clean teeth and focus on teaching people the importance of dental care.
  2. Dental Hygienists Make as Much Money as Dentists
    Many dentists are business owners who have their own staff, which includes dental hygienists. They work less hours and earn less than dentists. They do not have as many educational requirements as dentists.
  3. Dental Hygienists Just Clean Teeth
    Hygienists do so much more than clean teeth. Most of them do thorough analyses of the patient’s oral health. They educate patients about the ways to prevent tooth decay, gingivitis and other problems. They may be called to make demonstrations to adults or children. For each individual patient, they create a treatment plan that includes necessary diet and oral maintenance changes. Hygienists are mainly concerned with administering periodontal therapy. They keep charts to track progress, diagnose ailments, perform exams and recommend solutions. In some cases, they work with orthodontists who need help creating braces, making tooth impressions or removing devices.
  4. They Work All By Themselves
    Dental hygienists do not always work by themselves. They work in conjunction with other experts, such as dentists, orthodontists, dental therapists and periodontists. They must work with specialists to provide complete treatment plan for patients.
  5. They Only Work in the Area of Patient Care
    There are many different fields of business that hygienists work in – not just patient care. They can work in dental research, education, community awareness and marketing. Some hygienists perform complicated dental studies and experiments that are important for researchers. Others work in education by teaching classes to future hygienists or dental assistants. A small number work as representatives to sell products for dental companies.

Although dentists and hygienists share many of the same responsibilities, they do not have the same jobs. Hygienists are involved in preventing dental problems before any occur. Dentists are more concerned with diagnosing and treating problems. Hygienists are the people to thank if you have ever avoided cavities by following their advice.

Last Updated: April 15, 2015