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What does a dental hygienist do?

A dental hygienist is one of your first lines of defense when it comes to oral health. Get to know this key member of your dental health team.

What is a hygienist’s responsibility?

Dental hygienists typically perform the following tasks:

  • Take and develop dental x-rays
  • Clean and polish your teeth
  • Apply any necessary sealants
  • Apply fluoride treatments
  • Show you how to brush and floss correctly
  • Discuss your eating habits and how they affect your oral health

What training does a dental hygienist have?

A dental hygienist typically spends at least two years in school working toward an associate degree before becoming licensed to work in a dental office or other location.

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What’s the difference between a dentist and a hygienist?

A dentist typically spends four years at dental school and must have a state-specific license to practice. Additionally, it’s the job of your dentist to diagnose specific dental problems, such as the need for an extraction, oral surgery or other problems related to your oral health.

Dentists also perform more complex procedures, such as root canals and fillings, and are licensed to prescribe medication.

A hygienist is responsible for services like cleanings and fluoride treatments.

Together, your dentist and hygienist are a powerful team in protecting your oral health.

Last updated January 10, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.