Direct access to a Hygienist
The regulations have changed regarding seeing a dental hygienist.
Previously a hygienist needed to work from a dentist’s prescription (a patient would need to see a dentist for an examination first). It is now possible to gain direct access to a hygienist within our practice without the need to see a dentist first.
Patients should be aware that:
- They can see a hygienist for a standard appointment but may need more appointments to complete treatment depending on how they present at the time. This will be at the discretion of the dental hygienist who will make the patient aware of the number of appointments required and costs incurred in advance of treatment.
- The hygienist is legally only allowed to undertake treatment which is within their full scope of practice. The GDC sets out specific guidelines for this.
- A hygienist can see you to provide oral hygiene advice, remove staining, tartar, bacterial deposits and other debris. She can advise you on the progression of gum disease, but more advanced conditions need to be assessed by a dentist and then the hygienist would continue treatment under the prescription of the dentist.
- Hygienists can’t diagnose or give the prognosis (the likely outcome) of diseases such as decaying and broken teeth, or prescribe antibiotics, pain killers or any other drugs to alleviate symptoms.
- The hygienist will make a recommendation for the patient to see a dentist if the patient presents with treatment that the dental hygienist cannot provide. The patient will be made aware of this by the hygienist.
- Visits to a hygienist are not substitute for a full dental examination.
- There are very rare circumstances when a hygienist can’t start treatment and before they are prepared to continue, insist that a dentist assesses you. These may relate to your medical history and general health or the condition of your mouth, which gives them concern. Additional fees will apply if a visit to a dentist is required.
The scope of practice may vary with hygienists depending on their qualification for extended duties for dental hygienists.
Caroline Emmerson and Rachel Lister are qualified to provide the following treatment:
- Routine scale and polish
- Periodontal charting
- Topical anaesthetic placement
- Deep scaling under local anaesthetic, Infiltration and inferior nerve block
- Placements of topical fluoride gel
- Placement of temporary dressings
- Taking of dental impressions although for whitening teeth this will have to be under the direction of a dentist.