Dental Hygiene Costs – Alternatives and Options
Teeth cleaning is an incredibly important treatment.
It is one that we should all be getting performed regularly, by a professional.
This professional may be a dentist, a Dental Hygienist, or if you are of a certain age, a Oral Therapist.
So, how much does a Dental Hygienist cost?
Generally, a Dental Hygienist should charge the same amount as a dentist.
So, for a professional clean, you can expect to pay on average $118 – $147 or more.
This price will vary, depending on the state your teeth are in, and where you live.
The main focus of this post is on the difference between two professionals – a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist.
- Are Dental Hygienists Different to Dentists?
- Is There an Alternative to a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist?
- How Much Do Dental Hygienists Cost in Each State for a Clean?
- Hygienists do Anything Else, Apart from a Professional Clean.
- Why Does a Dentist Employ a Dental Hygienist, and
- Is Visiting a Hygienist Enough, Or Do You Need to See a Dentist Too?
Are Dental Hygienists Different to Dentists?
In regards to taking care of your teeth, and making sure that they maintain an ideal level of cleanliness, there is no difference between a dentist and a Dental Hygienist.
They are both professional occupations.
Both professionals will take care of the mouth, ensuring your teeth are and will stay, as clean as possible.
However, all in all, a Dentist is qualified to perform more services than a Dental Hygienist.
A Dentist will complete five years of undergraduate study at university in a course of ‘Dentistry’.
In these five years, they will be taught every aspect of oral care.
A Dental Hygienist also studies at university, but they have the choice of completing either;
- A two-year Advanced Diploma in ‘Oral Health’ (also called ‘Dental Hygiene’), or
- A three-year Bachelor Degree.
Typically, a Dental Hygienist is a practitioner who works in consultation with a Dentist – that is, they work at a dental clinic, as part of a team.
The higher qualification a Dentist receives means that they are capable of performing more complex dental procedures.
Whereas a Hygienists’ main role is to promote oral health, preventing patients from getting dental disease.
You can read about what services a Dental Hygienist can perform underneath the sub-headings;
– Can Hygienists Do Anything Else Apart from a Professional Clean”, and
– Why Does a Dentist Employ a Dental Hygienist?
Is There an Alternative to a Dentist and a Dental Hygienist
Yes – an alternative to a Dentist or a Dental Hygienist is known as an “Oral Therapist”.
An Oral Therapist is not a Dentist, but they are more than a Hygienist.
They too must study for many years at a university.
Whilst a Dentist must do five (5) years of study at university, an Oral Therapist requires three (3) years study in ‘Oral Health’.
In these three years, they will learn about dental hygiene and dental therapy.
In the end, they can perform the same work a Dentist does, but only on children up to the age of eighteen (18).
Basically, they can do everything a Dentist can do, yet they can only on do it on people under the age of eighteen, not on adults.
An Oral Therapist should charge exactly what a Dentist will charge for these procedures.
How Much Do Dental Hygienists Cost in Each State?
As mentioned, a Dental Hygienist should charge the same as a dentist for a clean.
So, below I will show you the average price a dentist will charge for a professional clean in each state/territory, so you can compare this cost against a Hygienists.
Can Hygienists Do Anything Else Apart from a Professional Clean?
A Dental Hygienist can do x-rays, as well as clean your teeth.
This is the extent of their profession.
However, this is still a vital role, one that is used in many dental clinics.
You see, a Dental Hygienist is seen as a critical profession, as they are still a professional who has studied at university, and whose job it is to take care of your mouth.
So, it does not matter that they are limited to what they are allowed to do, as they can work collaboratively together with the Dentist.
For that reason alone, many dentists’ will employ a Hygienist as they can work well together.
Your dentist will have the skill to perform complex procedures.
The Hygienist will provide more general care and give the patient information, so they maintain the cleanliness of their teeth and gums.
You can read more about why a dentist will employ a Hygienist below.
Why Does a Dentist Employ a Dental Hygienist?
A dentist is allowed to employ up to two Dental hygienists to work at any one practice.
A study done in 2015 on a random sample of 1169 registered Australian Dentists by the Australian Dental Association (ADA) showed that;
- 55% of Dentists employed/were willing to employ oral health therapists, such as a Hygienist.
Reasons for this included;
- Wanting to expand their practice, and
- Enhancing the capacity of their clinic, which would be made possible by the services the Hygienists provide.
It is common for a dentist to receive a phone call, asking if they have a Hygienist in their clinic.
This is as those people are used to seeing a Hygienist.
Many Dental Hygienists are also women.
Some people find it easier to get their regular dental treatments from a female.
If you have what is known as Dental Anxiety, which you can read about in our post – How to prevent panic attacks at the dentist, seeing a female may help keep you calm.
At some dental clinics, the dentists’ are too busy performing more complex restorative or cosmetic treatments to clean teeth.
Instead, they will refer you to see the Dental Hygienist who works at their practice, so you can still get your teeth cleaned in a timely manner.
This way, the Hygienist can focus on your oral care when the dentist simply does not have the time available.
Oral hygiene was the focus of Hygienists’ studies at university, so it is their specialty.
So, the Hygienist will ensure your teeth and gums are healed and healthy.
This encourages your overall well-being.
So, if a dentist employs a Hygienist, they will work collaboratively with the dentist.
Their role in the practice typically involves;
Dental Hygiene with a Hygienist
Generally speaking, a Hygienist has more time to spend with you on this than a Dentist.
This means that they can make a plan that is specific to your exact requirements.
This usually includes face-to-face advice on;
- How you are to properly care for your teeth and gums, and
- Any food habits or health conditions that you may have that are negatively impacting your oral health.
Working alongside your Dentist
In order to create a plan to maintain your oral health, this involves;
- Assessing the health of your gums (i.e. checking for gingivitis, otherwise known as gum disease).
- Checking for any oral diseases.
- Examining all your dental x-rays, and
- Reviewing your medical history.
- Performing a professional cleaning of your teeth
- Applying products to prevent tooth decay
- Recommending to you products that you can use at home, for prevention of decay and oral conditions.
After you see the Dental Hygienist, they will place you on an “oral maintenance program”.
This is a plan that they have created specifically for you, to ensure that you maintain the cleanliness of your mouth, teeth, and gums.
As with your dentist, you will be asked to revisit every six months (or perhaps more, depending on your teeth and what they require).
Often, the Hygienist may also recommend that the dentist;
- Diagnose and repair any problems, such as root canals, fillings for cavities, dental crowns, etc.
- Prescribe any necessary medication.
This is because, as mentioned, the dentist has the qualifications to perform the treatments that require more skill.
Is Visiting a Hygienist Enough, or Do You Need to See a Dentist Too?
If you have no issues with your teeth, then visiting a Hygienist every six months for your regular check-up and clean is absolutely fine.
But, before choosing this option, just be sure that there you have healthy teeth and gums – that you are not in any pain.
A professional tooth clean is something we should all be getting done regularly
Even if our teeth and gums are in good condition, every six months is recommended.
Why do you ask?
Feel free to read our post, which will explain to you the importance of Professional Teeth Cleaning.
What should you expect to pay for this procedure?
Well, the short answer is – it depends.
Everyone has different teeth and thus has different dental requirements.
So, you cannot expect the cost of your treatment to be the same as your neighbours.
But you can generally expect to pay roughly anywhere from $118 – $147 or more.
This price depends on your location, and the condition your teeth are in.
It is important to note that this cost is not expensive – any preventive measures, such as teeth cleaning, will end up saving you money.
You may have the choice to visit more than one professional, but this should not affect the cost – they should all charge the same for every procedure as a Dentist.
Simply put, you can visit;
- A Dentist.
- A Dental Hygienist, only if you have healthy teeth and gums, or
- An Oral Therapist, only if you are less than eighteen years of age.
We hope this article has helped you decide to go to your regular check-up and have your teeth cleaned.
What is your preference, a dentist or hygienist?
By Andrew Adams
Created at October 28, 2020, Updated at September 30, 2021