What they do
Dental hygienists assist dentists in providing oral health therapies and education. They consult with dentists to determine the appropriate treatment for patients, but are able to carry out most procedures independently. They examine patients' teeth and gum for signs of disease, remove plaque build-up and stains, and advise patients on how to look after the teeth and gums to maintain oral health. These workers also take x-rays, make impressions of patients' mouths to make mouth guards and study casts, and select, size and remove orthodontic appliances, such as braces. In some cases, dental hygienists may also assist dentists in surgery.
Dental hygienists work as part of a team at general dental practices throughout Western Australia. There is a strong demand for dental hygienists in rural and regional areas. They generally work regular office hours, Monday to Friday, though some may also work on Saturdays.
Tools and technologies
Dental hygienists use a range of specialised dental equipment to look inside the mouth, remove plaque from teeth and help keep the mouth clear and relatively dry during examinations and procedures. They must also use sterilising equipment and protective clothing, such as gloves and a mask. When educating patients about correct oral health care they use models and charts to demonstrate the correct brushing and flossing techniques and the effects of different diseases.
How do I become one?
Education and training
To become a dental hygienist you usually need to study a degree in oral health.
Curtin University offers a Bachelor of Science (Oral Health Therapy). Contact the university for more information.
Required registration and licensing
To work as a dental hygienist in Western Australia you will need to obtain registration from the Dental Board of Australia.