- By Jessica A. Rickert
Registered Dental Hygienists (RDH) teach us the “Daily 4.” This daily oral health regimen includes:
- Brushing teeth twice and flossing
- Vigorous rinsing with water after eating
- Chewing xylitol sugar-free gum after eating, when possible
- Rinsing with an anticavity rinse before bed
With tooth decay currently affecting 60-90 percent of schoolchildren, hygienists encourage parents to be outstanding oral care role models for their kids.
An RDH is a highly skilled professional who is integral to our oral health. Hygienists treat patients of all ages, and their duties include performing x-rays and diagnostic tests; preventative procedures include:
- Teeth cleaning, polishing, fluoride application and sealants
- Cleaning dental devices
- Mouth impressions
- Teeth whitening
- Treating gum disease
- Nutritional counseling and patient education
Often, the hygienist performs dental assisting duties for the dentist.
Becoming an RDH requires 3-4 years of college, and all states require licensing to practice.
An RDH can practice in clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, private dental offices, school-based programs, mobile vans, military, nursing home centers, and in teaching and administrative positions.
To be a successful RDH, continuing education and continuous improvement are required.
October 14 is World Cavity Free day. A healthy mouth is an important contributor to overall health. If we follow the RDH’s advice, our bodies have a better chance to be strong, resilient, and healthy. We can achieve excellent dental health. Why not take control of your heathy mouth?
Don’t wait until you have an oral problem to make an appointment. Your dental team is here to help you stay healthy, so call and thank your RDH. Stay strong and keep smiling!
Dr. Jessica A. Rickert is a tribal citizen of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, in 1975, she became for the first female Native American dentist.
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