Role of Dental Hygienist Explained by Knoxville Dentist

When you go to the dentist for bi-annual examinations and cleanings, you often end up spending more time with the dental hygienist than the dentist. Dental hygienists are highly trained individuals that are an essential part of the teamwork required to run a dental office. Your Knoxville dentist, Dr. Jim Erpenbach, speaks about the role of a…

When you go to the dentist for bi-annual examinations and cleanings, you often end up spending more time with the dental hygienist than the dentist. Dental hygienists are highly trained individuals that are an essential part of the teamwork required to run a dental office. Your Knoxville dentist, Dr. Jim Erpenbach, speaks about the role of a dental hygienist, and the importance of the professionals that do so much more than clean your teeth.

The First Dental Hygienist

Dr. Alfred Fones practiced dentistry in the early 1900s. His work at the time usually involved extractions of rotten teeth resulting from the poor oral hygiene of the general population. Dr. Fones had a cousin named Irene Newman, and the two of them collaborated to design the first preventive dentistry program. Dental nurses can be traced back to the 1800s, but when Dr. Fones trained Irene Newman, the duties shifted. His idea that the removal of plaque and calculus on the teeth could prevent the need for so many extractions required a knowledgeable person with a gentle manner. He gave his cousin the title “dental hygienist.”

What is the Role of a Dental Hygienist Today?

The role of a dental hygienist has expanded since Irene Newman took the first title. Dental offices have varying structures, but in general, hygienists perform some, or all, of the following duties:, administration and interpretation of dental x-rays, oral health assessments on patients, removal of plaque and tartar from the gumline, application of dental sealants, fluoride treatments, and educating patients on oral hygiene between six month checkups.

Dental hygienists are educated at accredited dental hygiene programs provided by colleges and universities. They are required to take a clinical examination and national board exam in order to receive their oral health care professional license.

We have a talented hygienist on our team, named Kathy. In addition to gently, but thoroughly cleaning your teeth, she can also recommend oral healthcare products and educate you on effective brushing and flossing practices. To schedule an appointment for a cleaning from Kathy, and an exam from Dr. Erpenbach, call our Knoxville dentist office at 865-240-2035. Our team is happy to offer comprehensive dentistry to patients in West Knoxville, the Bearden area, the 37919 zip code, and surrounding neighborhoods.

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