An up-to-date focus on the scope of practice of one group of dental care professionals (DCPs), as described by the General Dental Council (GDC).
Dental hygienists are registered dental professionals who help patients maintain their oral health by preventing and treating periodontal disease and promoting good oral health practice. They carry out treatment direct to patients or under prescription from a dentist. For statistics, see Figs 1-2 and Table 1.
As a dental hygienist, you can undertake the following if you are trained, competent and indemnified:
Provide dental hygiene care to a wide range of patients
Obtain a detailed dental history from patients and evaluate their medical history
Carry out a clinical examination within their competence
Complete periodontal examination and charting and use indices to screen and monitor periodontal disease
Diagnose and treatment plan within their competence
Take process and interpret various film views used in general dental practice
Plan the delivery of care for patients
Give appropriate patient advice
Provide preventive oral care to patients and liaise with dentists over the treatment of caries, periodontal disease and tooth wear
Undertake supragingival and subgingival scaling and root surface debridement using manual and powered instruments
Use appropriate anti-microbial therapy to manage plaque related diseases
Adjust restored surfaces in relation to periodontal treatment
Apply topical treatments and fissure sealants
Give patients advice on how to stop smoking
Take intra and extra-oral photographs
Give infiltration and inferior dental block analgesia
Place temporary dressings and re-cement crowns with temporary cement
Place rubber dam
Care of implants and treatment of peri-implant tissues
Identify anatomical features, recognise abnormalities and interpret common pathology
Carry out oral cancer screening
If necessary, refer patients to other healthcare professionals
Keep full, accurate and contemporaneous patient records
If working on prescription, vary the detail but not the direction of the prescription according to patient needs.
Additional skills which dental hygienists might develop include:
Tooth whitening to the prescription of a dentist
Administering inhalation sedation
Removing sutures after the wound has been checked by a dentist.
Dental hygienists do not:
Carry out pulp treatments
Adjust unrestored surfaces
Other skills are reserved to orthodontic therapists, dental technicians, clinical dental technicians or dentists.