Registered dental hygienists (RDHs) work primarily in dentists’ offices. Graduation from an accredited dental hygiene school and/or an associate's degree in dental hygiene, as well as state licensure and passing the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination are general requirements for this position. RDHs have a range of duties, including cleaning patients' teeth and gums and providing instructions to patients in proper dental hygiene. They also remove plaque, polish teeth, take x-rays, and teach patients appropriate techniques in brushing and flossing their teeth. They must always adhere to safety guidelines when using X-ray machines and be able to work independently as well as in a team environment, and should also have excellent interpersonal and communication skills to work well with patients.
Hygienists work under the supervision of licensed dentists; unlike dental assistants, however, they work independently and often see patients on their own. Because registered dental hygienists work directly with patients, they must be comfortable working in close physical proximity and be able to troubleshoot minor instrument problems. They must always clean and sterilize their instruments properly, as well. Above all, RDHs must be reliable and ethical and always stay up-to-date with new techniques and technologies relevant to dental hygiene.
Registered Dental Hygienist (RDH) Tasks
Teach patients how to practice good oral hygiene.
Remove soft and hard deposits from teeth.
Record the presence of diseases or abnormalities.
Examine patients teeth and gums.