What Are the Expanded Duties of a Dental Hygienist?
In the dental office, the dentist and dental hygienist work together to provide the best possible care to their patients. The range of services performed by dental hygienists varies from state to state, and each state has its own regulations regarding the responsibilities of dental hygienists.
If the dental hygienist has completed board-approved training in a certain expanded function, dentists can delegate those expanded function duties to them. To ensure compliance with the rules of the Dental Board of California, expanded function training must be documented properly, and the documentation must be kept by the dentist in the office. The expanded duties of a dental hygienist include:
- Taking occlusal registrations;
- Fabrication, temporary cementation, and removal of provisional restorations;
- Placement and removal of gingival retraction material;
- Applying cavity bases and liners, desensitizing agents, and bonding systems in order to include the placement of orthodontic brackets;
- Taking final impressions;
- Recementation of provisional restorations;
- Placement of Class 1 temporary filling materials.
These are Level 1 expanded functions that dental hygienists must complete in order to proceed to the training in Level 2 expanded functions.
- Placement and shaping of adhesive restorative materials, following preparation of a tooth by a dentist;
- Placement and shaping of amalgam, following preparation of a tooth by a dentist;
- Tissue conditioning;
- Placement of intracoronal temporary fillings;
- Fitting of stainless-steel crowns on primary posterior teeth;
- Cementation (after verification by the dentist);
- Polishing of adhesive restorative material;
- Extraoral adjustment to acrylic dentures.
After completing the training for the Level 2 expanded function, a dentist may delegate any of these procedures to a dental hygienist. In addition to and including the duties aforementioned, the following intraoral tasks and/or duties may also be assigned by a licensed dentist to a dental hygienist:
- Nutritional counseling;
- Dental health education;
- Supra – and subgingival scaling of teeth;
- Examining and recording periodontal findings;
- Administration of infiltration and block anesthesia;
- Placing periodontal dressings with a final evaluation by the supervising dentist;
- Placing of subgingival medicaments, fibers, chips, etc.
Employed dental auxiliaries are given priority consideration when applying for expanded functions training. Next, auxiliaries must have at least two years assisting experience in general dentistry unless they are RDHs. RDHs (Registered Dental Hygienists) must provide proof of current RDH status, while Certified Dental Assistants must provide proof of current employment status from the DANB or State of California Certification showing a certification expiration date.
Are you an RDH or RDA who wants to achieve more regarding your dental expertise? Would you like to further your career by expanding your knowledge and skill set? Does your supervising dentist (employer) have confidence in your abilities to contribute more to their dental team? Then those reasons are enough to enroll in training for expanded duties of a dental hygienist.
Since 2000, Dental Specialties Institute, Inc. has been providing continuing education for dental assistants in California. If you are interested in how our team of professionals and instructors can help you meet your education requirements, feel free to contact us.