Visiting a Dentist Vs. a Dental Hygienist: What’s the Difference?

25 Sep 2020  |  No Comments

Save Download Preview Dental hygienist performing teeth cleaning procedure to a girl in pediatric dental clinic

Wondering whether you should visit a dentist or a dental hygienist? It’s common for the term “dentist” to conjure up images of intimidating tools, so if you just need a regular check-up or cleaning appointment, are you leaning towards the slightly more gentle sounding “dental hygienist”?

In reality, the hygienist role tends to complement the role of the dentist, to help deliver quality treatment plans and provide support in the clinic. In this article, we’ll take a look at the role of the dental hygienist compared to that of the dentist, so you know what to expect when you book an appointment.

What does a dentist do?

A dentist carries out all overall diagnosis and treatment of issues in patients’ mouths. This ranges from removing decay or repairing damaged teeth, administering anaesthetics or prescribing antibiotics, to taking X-rays and referring patients to a specialist where necessary.

They often work in collaboration with dental hygienists or therapists, dental laboratory technicians and receptionists. Most dentists are general practitioners, though some specialise in certain areas such as orthodontics, anaesthesiology, endodontics (root canal therapy) and pediatric dentistry (children’s dentistry).

When should you visit a dentist?

You should make an appointment with a dentist when:

  1. It’s time for a routine teeth clean and check-up
  2. You’re experiencing pain or swelling in the mouth
  3. You have teeth or gum sensitivity
  4. A tooth has become knocked out, fractured or decayed
  5. You’re unhappy with the way your smile looks
  6. You have an abscess
  7. Your teeth or gums are bleeding
  8. You want a cosmetic or whitening treatment

What does a dental hygienist do?

Dental hygienists are mostly involved in preventative treatments. They carry out professional teeth cleaning known as a “scale and polish”, which removes plaque to protect your mouth against serious issues such as decay or gum disease. They’re also trained to carry out X-rays and other procedures such as placing fissure sealants and administering fluoride treatments.

They’ll also provide guidance on how to properly care for your mouth and prevent tooth decay, including information about oral health and a proper diet. Hygienists work in a supporting role with the dentist to provide comprehensive, tailored care.

When should you visit a dental hygienist?

You may just need an appointment with a hygienist when:

  1. You need a routine scale and polish.
  2. You need advice on how to look after your oral health.
  3. You have an upcoming special occasion, and want to achieve a little extra sparkle on your teeth.
  4. You’ve just undergone or are about to undergo orthodontic treatment, and need advice on keeping the braces or your teeth clean.
  5. You’re noticing signs of gum disease.

Book with Marsfield Dental Clinic

With most appointments at Marsfield Dental Clinic, you’ll visit a dentist who will be supported by a hygienist, for a thorough treatment that’s designed to be as efficient and comfortable as possible. To book an appointment, call our practice on (02) 9887 1961.

"The information in this website may be simplified in nature and does not replace professional advice. Risks and consequences may apply to any treatment. Always seek a second opinion when considering complex treatment. A referral to a specialist may be required in certain situations. Quotations can only be given after proper clinical assessment and so pricing details cannot be given over the phone."

COVID 19 Update - Oct 2021

 All our members of staff - Dentists and supporting assistants - are fully vaccinated. We are a COVID-safe practice and we are open for all general dental treatment needs and services.