How to Become a Dental Hygienist
A dental hygienist provides assistance to a dentist in the care of their patients. They will help to diagnose and treat diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums, along with providing education to patients on how to prevent this kind of disease in the future. A dental hygienist will work both one on one with patients, and also in the presence of a dentist at times.
To succeed as a dental hygienist, you'll need to have excellent time management skills, as your days will be hectic and you may often find yourself managing more than one client at a time. You'll also need a fine attention to detail, good hand-eye coordination, as well as manual dexterity. Being good with people is also important, as you will spend a good amount of your time with clients.
Educational Requirements to Become a Dental Hygienist
If you're in high school, you can start preparing for a career as a dental hygienist. Taking subjects in math, biology, and English will be helpful. A part time job or work experience in the medical sector will also be helpful in assisting your to gain experience.
To become a dental hygienist, you will need to complete either a 2 year or 4 year degree in dental hygiene. You can complete the two year program at a vocational school, or a 4 year program at a college.
If you want to work in a private dental clinic, then the two year associate degree program will be sufficient for you to practice as a dental hygienist. The four year program will provide you with a much broader base of knowledge and skills, and will open the door to further opportunities late in your career, in dentistry, as well as research, public and school health, and administration.
After you complete your qualification, you will also need to be licensed within your state. To do this you will need to pass a written exam.
Dental Hygienist Job Description
A dental hygienist will provide a range of services to clients to help with oral health. They will never cut or remove teeth though, this can only be performed by a dentist. They may examine a patient, and work with a dentist to provide a diagnosis. They may clean teeth, and also help a dentist to perform more complicated procedures.
When you become a dental hygienist, you might also provided education and advice. Hygienists may make recommendations to a client on how they can improve their oral health in the further, to prevent disease of the teeth and gums. Here are some of the typical duties of a dental hygienist.
- Greet clients
- Prepare clients for an examination
- Taking a history of clients health
- Measuring blood pressure and heart rate
- Examine and clean teeth
- Consult with a dentist to provide diagnosis
- Appointment setting
- Assisting with procedures
- Assisting in surgery
- Complete, develop, and interpret X-Rays
- Making mouth guards
- Removing plaque and polishing teeth
- Removing dressing and sutures after surgery
Dental Hygienist Salary and Career Path
Most dental hygienists will find employment in a private dentistry clinic after they gain their qualification. Working conditions are good, and employment prospects strong. Most receive medical and dental benefits, particularly those who work in the public sector.
With a bit of experience, you may be able to move across to the public sector, which offers better working conditions and salary.
When you first become a dental hygienist, you can expect to earn a salary of around $40,000 a year. Those with more experience will earn closer to the median wage of $55,000. The top dental hygienists can earn as much as $70,000 a year.
Dental hygienists who complete the four year Bachelor's degree may find themselves with more responsibility and a higher salary. They will also have greater opportunities to peruse careers in public health, administration, or research. Some dental hygienists complete further study to take on more involved roles, such as that of a denture specialist.
If you have an interest in health, are great with people, and looking for a secure career then you might consider becoming a dental hygienist. Working conditions are excellent, and a large salary is on offer. There are also plenty of opportunities for those who want to take on further study and professional development.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics