Prevention is key: How dental hygienists can help strengthen a team and protect public health

It may sound pretty obvious but the key to effective teamwork is the utilisation of everyone’s strengths. What some may lack, others can provide and by working closely, teams can learn from each other which can improve efficiency and help them find the best way of working.

It’s important that dental practices consider the needs of their patients when building a team and look at the wider landscape. What are the common ailments often presented? Is there a need to promote more oral health education or do cosmetic procedures seem to make the most of client requests? Chances are that most procedures are trying to fix years of damage caused in large part by poor dental hygiene and care. This isn’t always the fault of the individual, it is usually down to a lack of awareness. If people don’t have access to the right information, they may not know that they’re causing any harm to their teeth.


People tend to flock to social media and the internet for their information. Patients may see a great advert for a new treatment and believe that it works. Take, for example, charcoal-based products. Beauty salons have been known to promote these products heavily as a solution to yellowing teeth. The truth is that there’s very little evidence to suggest its efficacy and it’s possible that it may be doing more harm than good. Charcoal actually inactivates fluoride which is a key component to maintaining oral health.

People will believe something if it is marketed well enough and that’s why it’s important as their dental health practitioner, to protect and advise patients on the right course of action. Prevention is key and having staff who can educate and advise patients will prevent any unnecessary damage in the future.


Most patients that attend practice are often presenting ailments that could have been prevented with good care. Investing time into patient education and encouraging good hygiene techniques may be the key to reducing the rate of tooth decay and preventing serious disease. Hygienists’ central role is to educate and protect oral health before it becomes a bigger issue. Having a hygienist onboard will not only help improve health across the client base but other staff may find it beneficial to work alongside them and learn new skills.

Hygienists help develop self-care plans that motivate patients to take ownership of their own dental health. Practices should aim to dedicate their time to training staff in preventative skills rather than relying on a treatment-based approach. Dental hygienists are an integral part of a dental team and can offer a lot of expertise and advice for staff and patients alike. Dental hygienists may even be able to help advise on your current cases and show new ways of thinking. They can help add perspective to treatment plans and really support dental nurses as well as the wider team on their professional journey.

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