How to Become a Dental Hygienist

Career



As the name implies, a dental hygienist will help you keep your teeth clean and healthy. They most often perform routine teeth cleanings when you visit the dentist’s office. This is the capacity in which most of us know dental hygienists. However, their training and job description can involve much more.

In fact, dental hygienists play a crucial role in the preventative care of your teeth, teaching you how to care for them before any problems develop. They provide information on how your diet and oral care routine, such as brushing and flossing, can affect the well being of your teeth and gums.

When a dental hygienist looks at your teeth and gums, he or she will be able to spot any concerns and show you how to treat any disease or conditions. This can be done with a variety of instruments. Dental hygienists may also take x rays of your teeth. Dental hygienists can also practice a wide variety of procedures, including working with fillings and, in some states, the administering of anesthetics. They may also perform some of the preparatory or follow up work for oral surgical procedures. Their training allows them to diagnose and use lab tests in treatments.

Dental hygienists have the added bonus of a very open work schedule. They can work in more than one location, from just a few hours a week to nearly full time.

A well trained dental hygienist will know all about healthy teeth and gums, and the many ways that oral health can affect your overall health as well. In the dental office setting, a dental hygienist may also perform administrative or educational duties.

The dentist’s office is not the only place that a dental hygienist can work, however. They may also find employment in long term care facilities, schools, hospitals or even in corporate organizations.

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In order to become a dental hygienist you must become licensed. The official licensing designation is RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist). In order to get licensed, you must successfully complete an accredited college or university dental hygiene program and pass a board exam with both a written and clinical element. The written portion of the exam is administered across the nation by The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations. Each state has its own clinical exam to administer.

Usually these dental hygiene programs will result in an Associate’s degree. And, in order to apply for such programs you must first be a high school graduate with a diploma or equivalent. To reach the highest levels in your dental hygiene career you may choose to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.

Some dental hygienists may be required to present some college credit as well, depending upon the program they apply for. Colleges and universities that offer dental hygiene degrees will have a broad curriculum, with a focus on the medical and scientific topics of the dental field, as well as some social sciences.

The average salary of dental hygienist can be quite competitive. Sources report that most dental hygienists can make about $40,000 when they start out, then quickly start to earn about $50,000 per year. Some even report an average salary as high as $62,000, or up to $100,000 with extensive experience in the field. Private dentist offices or other private institutions will pay higher dental hygienist salaries.

One of the reasons that you can count on a good dental hygienist salary is the fact that everyone needs to get their teeth cleaned and cared for! In addition, with better dental care, more people are holding onto their teeth for longer, which will necessitate further dental treatment and upkeep.

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Currently, statistical predictions show that there will be continued job growth in the field of dental hygiene. The employment for dental hygienists could grow by as much as 36% over the next 6 years. Recently graduated dentists are also more likely than their near to retirement predecessors, to hire a dental hygienist,


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