Dental Hygienist

An oral hygienist focuses on prevention and oral care in order to prevent and combat tooth decay and gum disease.


A dental hygienist focuses on preventive treatment; preventing caries and gum problems.

Prevention assistent

A prevention assistent is educated in preventive treatments and oral hygiene.

Frequently asked questions

About how gingivitis, plaque and periodontitis develop.

The function of a

Dental hygienist

The dental hygienist should focus on prevention and oral care in order to prevent and combat tooth decay and gum disease. Patients can report directly to the dental hygienist if they need help in preventing tooth decay (cavities) and gum disease. The dental hygienist can then give advice on the oral hygiene measures to be taken.

Often a dental hygienist works in a practice as part of the dental team. There are also independent hygienists with their own office. The hygienist, like the dentist, is responsible for the inclusion of all relevant data in the patient’s file.

A dental hygienist can also work in an office specialising in, for example, periodontics, implantology or orthodontics, care institutions, special dentistry, youth dental care and hospitals. He/she has their own specific responsibilities.

What is a

Dental hygienist?

In the Netherlands, the dental hygienist is a paramedic with a higher professional education, working within various oral care disciplines. The profession of the dental hygienist is regulated by the Individual Health Care Professions Act (BIG Act). This BIG Act was established in 1997. The BIG Act is a quality law and aims to promote and monitor the quality of professional practice. The law also protects the patient against incompetent and careless actions by professionals. Dental hygienists who have graduated can register with the NVM and the KRM. The NVM is the professional register and the KRM is the quality register of and for dental hygienists. Hygienists registered in the KRM show that they invest in quality by attending continuing education courses and training, and conducting peer consultations.

The BIG Act describes the required field of expertise in Section 34. It is expected that the dental hygienist will come under Article 36a in 2018. The dentist is covered by Article 3 and is therefore registered as a MIG. The title of dental hygienist is a title protected by law and may only be used by those who hold the diploma of dental hygienist. The diploma is obtained after successfully completing the 4-year Hbo course.

The mission of a

Dental hygienist

The tasks of the dental hygienist are focused on preventive treatment: the prevention of cavities and gum problems. In addition, the hygienist also works curatively, which is aimed at healing. This includes the treatment of gum diseases.

  • Collection of medical history, food and medical history (medical questionnaire)
  • Carrying out of an additional and intra oral examination
  • Mapping of gum condition DPSI score (Dutch periodontal screening index)
  • Mapping of the condition of the gums and jawbones
  • Providing advice and information on, among other things, the development of caries, gum disease and dietary habits.
  • Extensive dental cleaning above and below the gums
  • Removal of tartar and plaque and ‘any other deposits’
  • Application of fluoride
  • Smoothing of root surfaces
  • Applying sealants (lacquering)
  • Monitoring and evaluation of disease process and cure
  • Polishing fillings, teeth and molars
  • Removal of stains and deposits from tea, coffee and smoking
  • Cleaning of root surfaces above and below the gums
  • Periodontal treatments (gum diseases)
  • Treatment of small cavities (on assignment and in consultation with the dentist).
  • Taking X-rays (on assignment and in consultation with the dentist)
  • Giving (local) anaesthesia (on assignment and in consultation with the dentist).
  • Taking dental images
  • Treatment of children from 2 1/2 years old
  • Bleaching of teeth (in consultation with the dentist)

When should you visit a

Dental hygienist

  • On the advice of your dentist
  • When gums bleed during brushing
  • When the gums are red and/or swollen
  • When you have bad breath
  • When you experience a dirty taste in your mouth
  • When teeth become loose
  • When gums retract
  • When cavities develop

The supporting


More and more practices are working with a prevention assistant. This is generally a dental assistant who is trained in carrying out preventive actions and oral hygiene. In addition, she provides support to the dentist with regard to the preparation, execution and completion of patient treatment.

What actions can a prevention assistant carry out?

  • Recording medical history (medicines questionnaire / health)
  • Running a plaque test
  • Mapping of gum condition per ‘DPSI’ system (Dutch periodontal screening index)
  • Removal of tartar and plaque above the gum.
  • Polishing teeth
  • Removal of deposits from tea coffee and smoking
  • Application of fluoride

Frequently asked questions about



Inflammation at the gum line is caused by bacteria in the plaque. Dental plaque can be calcified into tartar that is attaches firmly to the teeth – and can be selective. A new layer of adhesive is formed on top of this. Dental plaque can cause inflammation of the gums: gingivitis.


Healthy gums are pink and firm and lie tightly around the teeth and molars. There is a rule that always applies: if the gums are healthy, they never bleed!


Bleeding gums means gingivitis. Don’t ignore this signal; take action to restore gum health. Good oral hygiene is important for this. Always consult with your dentist or dental hygienist to determine the most appropriate equipment for you.


Infected gums are often red, and can feel limp and swollen. They often bleed during dental treatment, or during brushing or eating.


Periodontitis is a gum inflammation involving the jawbone. Deeper tissues and structures have become involved in the inflammation. As described above, plaque causes irritation to the gums and especially to the edges of the gums and to the underlying jawbone.


Inflammation of the gum line (gingivitis) is caused by bacteria. Gum inflammation can spread in depth to the jawbones around the teeth and can occur in teeth. This causes the gums to move away from the teeth and to loosen. In the space (the pocket) that is created between the gums and the teeth, plaque forms again. Through this plaque the disease spreads further and deeper.