A dental hygienist or oral hygienist is a licensed dental professional. They are healthcare professionals who offer oral health care services for patients. They are given full training and education in matters regarding prevention and treatment of oral maladies and ailments. In most events, a dental hygienist works towards assisting a dentist in his or her work and also helps in providing information disbursal for dental diseases. Sometimes the dental hygienist is given the charge to administer local anesthesia and even do dental radiography work.
One of the important functions of the oral hygienist is to do periodontal therapy. This work is inclusive of doing periodontal charting, scaling and root planning, and prophylaxis for patients who have periodontal disease. So also, dental hygienists perform examinations, make a diagnosis and take intra-oral radiographs, dental sealants, give fluoride and give instructions and information to patients.
Sometimes, dental hygienists even work aside from orthodontists and periodontists. Also, they also do the following:

  1. Professional education – they provide information by teaching and training other dental hygienists and even dental assistants in their work.
  2. They are involved in community health services like aiding patients who have medical and mental ailments.
  3. They are involved in military dentistry to those defense services during times of humanitarian needs.
  4. They can even help out in sales and marketing campaigns as dental representatives.

How is an orthodontist different from a dental hygienist?

An orthodontist performs procedures related with braces and retainers and the like. Their nature of work is to ensure that the dentition of a patient, which is not in perfect order, becomes so. This is done by extracting a few teeth and creating space for the rest of them to straighten out. This procedure helps in restoring the morale and the self-esteem of patients by a big way – in essence, some people suffer from low confidence levels when their smile and manner of talking and eating is not proper due to imperfect teeth placement. The use of braces and retainers restores this, and this is the duty of an orthodontist.
A cosmetic dentistry professional may be one who is involved in procedures like teeth whitening and even other cosmetic treatments like dental implants et al. Teeth whitening is a procedure which can be done at home as well as in the dental clinic. At home, teeth whitening trays are made use of, and these are smeared with a whitening agent and worn for a given duration of time each day for a given number of days. At the dental clinic, teeth whitening is done by first prepping up the teeth. Then, they are smeared with a whitening agent which is then cemented to the teeth surface by the use of laser light of a given intensity passed through it for a given duration of time. However, this is not a permanent solution to the problem. Teeth which are whitened at home or in the dental clinic may become stained or yellowed again if proper oral hygiene is not maintained or certain foods and drinks are ingested which can cause the teeth to get re-stained.

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