Oral health

Seeing the dental hygienist

A dental hygienist is specially trained to provide preventative dental care by treating gum disease. They are a licensed dental professional, registered with the General Dental Council.

Their main role is to clean your teeth free from plaque and tartar. This may involve the treatment of:

  • Bleeding, painful gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Advice on diet
  • Advice on how to stop smoking.

This treatment is often followed by a treatment plan for you to follow at home.

If additional training is undertaken, a hygienist can carry out:

  • Tooth whitening to the prescription of a dentist
  • Administering inhalation sedation
  • Removing sutures (stitches) after the wound has been checked by a dentist.

A dental hygienist does NOT:

  • Restore teeth
  • Carry out pulp treatments
  • Adjust unrestored surfaces
  • Extract teeth.

A hygienist works within the dental team in many work settings. This includes:

  • NHS practice
  • Private practice
  • Specialist periodontal or orthodontic practice
  • Hospital
  • Or they may also be involved in health promotion as a teacher/lecturer.

Not all dental practices have a dental hygienist, however due to increasing demands from patients to get more from their dental teams than ever before, more dental practices now offer this service.

If you are looking for children’s preventative care, a dental hygienist can help to prevent decay of the deciduous dentition (baby teeth). This may involve the application of fluoride varnish. Children can also take home knowledge of brushing techniques and how to keep their teeth in good condition.

The cost of treatment varies between practices. According to the Dentistry fees survey in 2016, the national average hourly rate for a hygiene visit came in at £91 per 60-minute session, but regional rates varied from £73 per hour in Northern Ireland, to £106 in both south west England, and London and south-east England.