Dental hygienists use an assortment of tools to complete their tasks. Hand and rotary instruments and ultrasonic devices are used to clean and polish teeth, which includes removing tartar, stains, and plaque. Hygienists use x-ray machines to take dental pictures, and sometimes develop the film. They may use models of teeth to explain oral hygiene, perform root planning as a periodontal therapy, or apply cavity-preventative agents such as fluorides and pit and fissure sealants. In some States, hygienists are allowed to administer anesthetics, while in others they administer local anesthetics using syringes. Some States also allow hygienists to place and carve filling materials, temporary fillings, and periodontal dressings; remove sutures; and smooth and polish metal restorations. Hygienists sometimes make a diagnosis and other times prepare clinical and laboratory diagnostic tests for the dentist to interpret. Hygienists sometimes work chair-side with the dentist during treatment. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), Dental hygienists receive their education through academic programs at community colleges, technical colleges, dental schools or universities. The majority of community college programs take at least two years to complete, with graduates receiving associate degrees. This degree allows a hygienist to take licensure examinations (national and state or regional), become licensed and to work in a dental office. University-based dental hygiene programs may offer baccalaureate and master’s degrees, which generally require at least two years of further schooling. These additional degrees may be required for a career in teaching and/or research, as well as for clinical practice in school or public health programs. Our hygienists come from different walks of life and education paths and they are here to ensure that every patient gets the best quality of service and attention they deserve. If you are interested in a future as a Dental Hygienist, feel free to talk to Dr. Petersen or even one of our Hygienist at Las Cruces Dental Solutions and they can help guide you in the right direction.