The dental hygienist is a licensed health care professional, oral health educator, and clinician who is an integral part of the dental team. Registered dental hygienists provide direct dental hygiene care to patients.
Dental hygienists discuss general health issues with patients. They look for any abnormalities or disease in the oral cavity. Hygienists take x-rays and inspect patients’ teeth for deposits and decay. They perform cancer screenings of the head and neck lymph nodes. Hygienists use dental instruments to remove deposits and stains from around the teeth. They administer anesthetic agents and nitrous oxide sedation for ease and comfort of the client/patient during hygiene care. They also do preventative procedures such as fluoride and sealant placement.
Great Falls College – Montana State University offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Dental Hygiene. It is a competitive program and students often times seek the entire AS degree to enhance their application or for flexibility to transfer for other health majors. Sheridan College, part of the Northern Wyoming Community College has an AAS degree which has similar prerequisite courses as the one for Great Falls College – Montana State University.