Dental hygienists are the primary dental healthcare professionals working alongside a dentist. With new legislation coming into the oral health sector and a wider availability of workplaces outside of the dental office, dental hygienists are finding more collaborative practices for their specialization. Those today who become a dental hygienist will work not only in a dental office, but in hospitals, special therapy clinics, in schools and around the world. Few people recognize that oral health collaborates with other areas of healthcare, and that many other issues in the body are tied to issues with the mouth and teeth.
Nurses and Doctors
There have been extensive links found between oral health and systemic conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, ear aches and eating disorders. Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis are linked to oral bacteria, and periodontal (gum) disease has been associated with premature births. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria not only from our mouths but from our bodies too, meaning a patienta��s care needs to come from both a nurse and dental hygienist. It is believed that the treatment of oral diseases in hospital patients can help reduce hospitalization costs and cure illnesses more efficiently.
Wea��re all familiar with the phrase a�?you are what you eata�?, and your oral health is in fact greatly affected by your diet. For example, a nutritionist may have a patient who is overweight or diabetic, and a dental hygienist will notice that the patient has a high carbohydrate intake due to the sugars eroding their teeth. Dental hygienist training will give you the qualifications to recognize eating disorders such as bulimia, which can cause tooth erosion, not to mention bad breath from vomiting. The dental hygienist may refer patients they can see have an unhealthy diet to a dietician, who can help them develop a proper eating schedule.
Orofacial myology is the study of the muscles of the lips and tongue. Orofacial myological therapy is designed to teach patients how to properly rest their face, and the functioning patterns of the muscles of the mouth. Teaching proper resting positions of the face can lead to curing speech impediments like lisps, and also allows teeth to grow in properly. A dental hygienist may work with an orofacial myology patient to monitor their teeth development throughout therapy, or maybe also use the expertise of an orofacial myology therapist to teach dental patients about proper tongue and lip resting positions.
Public Health/Aid Missions
Just because you went to dental hygienist school, doesn’t necessarily mean you must work as a dental hygienist in a clinic. There are many communities in the world living in remote areas, where healthcare may be accessible but oral healthcare most often is not. Dental aid missions are usually international initiatives to set up temporary clinics in remote areas, allowing residents to show up and have teeth pulled or cleaned and learn about proper oral health care like brushing their teeth. Becoming a teacher of proper dental care is an important part of the job for dental hygienists, as education is the number one preventative measure for oral diseases.