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Seelix's avatar

Does your dentist do the work him/herself or does (s)he have a hygienist?

Asked by Seelix (14757 points ) February 24th, 2011

My dad is a dentist, and he’s retiring at the end of March. I went in for my last appointment with him today, and it finally really hit me that I’ll have to go to another dentist for the first time in my life. I’ve had braces, so I’ve been to an orthodontist, but I’ve never been to another dentist.

I also realized that many dentists these days employ hygienists, who do a lot of the work. My dad has an assistant, but not a hygienist, and I know I’ll feel a little weird about a “non-dentist” doing cleanings and things. I know that hygienists are trained and qualified, but it still seems a little weird to me.

Does your dentist have a hygienist? How much of the work does the hygienist do as opposed to the dentist him/herself?

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18 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

My hygienist has a Masters in it so I feel she’s very qualified. My actual dentist checks me out once a year unless the hygienist suggests a more thorough exam. I trust her and I don’t feel like I’m somehow not being well cared for.

BarnacleBill's avatar

My dentist has two part-time hygienists. One only works Fridays and Saturdays, and the other works Tuesday – Thursdays. The one that works during the week actually cleaned my teeth for years at another dentist office. They do cleanings only, then he comes and does the actual exam. When I go back for fillings, I see the dentist only.

DominicX's avatar

The vast majority of the times I’ve been the dentist, it’s been for routine cleanings/checkups. In those cases, the hygienist would do the bulk of the work and then the dentist herself (who is a family friend of my mom’s) would look at my teeth afterward and inspect everything. I’ve only had one filling and that was back when I lived in Vegas, but my mom says that the dentist here does perform fillings and root canals and more serious work, but she lets the hygienists do the cleanings.

Kayak8's avatar

My great grandfather, my grandfather, and my uncle have been my dentists over the course of my life. They always did the work themselves (no assistant or hygienist). Now I see another dentist (closer to where I live) and he does the work himself as well. Again, another small family practice with a father and his two sons.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

My dentist does all the work save for the scheduling. Course, he’s also my uncle, so I’m not sure he’d let an assistant work on me, even if he had one.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I feel so left out with no dentists in my family.

Seelix's avatar

My dad’s assistant holds the spit-sucker, hands him instruments and sterilizes things… She also operates the X-ray machine and develops the X-rays, but that’s all she does. My dad does everything else. I know that part of the anxiety is because I’ll have to see a new dentist altogether, but part of it is the hygienist as well. I feel kind of stupid that it bothers me :(
Maybe I’ll just have to hunt for a no-hygienist dentist.

chyna's avatar

My best friend of 25 years was my hygenist until my dentist retired. She then went into nursing and I had to find a new dentist. No hygienist can fill her shoes.

Blackberry's avatar

Evertime for me, the dentist and the hygienist/Assistant worked together. They both literally tag teamed my mouth (that’s what she said). Once, the dentist did the work and had a recorder that he told stuff to.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

My dentist has a hygienist,Mrs.Big Hands.Perhaps you’ve heard of her? XD

AmWiser's avatar

Gee! I thought all dentist had hygienist/assistants to do the dirty work and then the dentist comes along and checks to make sure the hygienist/assistants did a thorough job of cleaning or prep work. That has been my experience at the dentist office.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

My dentist does things like final exams, fillings, root canals and such, assisted by a hygeinist. My hygeinist does my cleanings.

Plucky's avatar

My dentist and hygienist work together on my teeth. For cleanings, it’s usually just the hygienist but my dentist comes in once in awhile if there’s some complication or just to say hi. I am very happy with both of them and have had extensive work done over the years.

Sunny2's avatar

Usually, the hygienist does the cleaning, but Dr. H always comes in and checks and talks to me. Sometimes he does the cleaning and, obviously, he always does any work that needs doing. He’s a terrific man and my husband and I always enjoy talking to him.

rooeytoo's avatar

I have never been to a dentist who did the cleaning himself. They have all had hygienists. I just assumed that was the norm, I am surprised to hear differently.

@JilltheTooth – hehehe, I feel the same way, no dentists in my family either.

MissAusten's avatar

There are two dentists at the office we use, a husband a wife team. He treats adults and she specializes in pediatric dentistry. They are so nice and adorable it’s unreal. They also have a couple of hygienists. For routine cleanings, the hygienist cleans the teeth first and then the dentist comes in to check things out, talk about potential problems, etc.

When we’ve had to go in for things like fillings or other issues, the dentist does all the work and the hygienist assists.

I, too, didn’t know there were dentists who did all of the cleaning themselves!

theninth's avatar

My first few dentists had hygienists who did the majority of the work—the X-rays, the cleaning, etc.—the dentist would do the check, review my x-rays and the hygienist’s findings, and would do any of the “heavy” stuff, like fillings or extractions.

My current dentist does it all herself, aside from the x-rays. She has a tech that does that as soon as the patients arrive so they x-rays are already ready and waiting when the dentist comes in.

Seelix's avatar

I know my dad is old-school, but I didn’t realize that in some places, hygienists were so common that it’d be surprising to think that the dentist would do cleanings him/herself!
Like I said, my dad is retiring soon, and he has been practicing for 42 years, so it’d only make sense that he has a few habits that aren’t commonly in practice anymore (that’s not to say that he isn’t up-to-date with procedures – dentists are required to take courses and get certified in new techniques in order to continue practicing, so don’t think that yours is archaic just because (s)he’s older!).

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